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"Mastering Emotions: A 5-Step Guide to Understanding and Processing Your Feelings"

As humans, we experience a vast array of emotions and feelings each day.  Although often used interchangeably, there’s a difference between emotions and feelings. Emotions are an instinctual, primal, and chemical response to a stimulus; we feel them physically. They operate at a subconscious level. On the other hand, our feelings are our interpretation of our emotions.  They are often created from our experiences.  Together, our emotions and feelings form our overall mood.

 

We usually classify our emotional state as "good" or "bad" based on the physical sensations we experience. But here's the thing - if we don't separate our definition of feelings from our definition of emotions, we might end up confusing the two and fighting against our feelings or denying them altogether.

 

So, let's talk about how to recognize, name, and process our emotions and feelings.

 

To identify your feelings and emotions

Take a moment to sit quietly and reflect on how you’re feeling right now. If you're having trouble identifying and naming your emotions, click Feelings wheel.docx to access a list of feelings.

Now, let's do a body scan! Just follow Body Scan Meditation.docx to access the script that will guide you through it. This exercise will help you become more aware of your physical sensations or emotions.

 

Once you're done with the body scan,  write down the emotional sensations you experienced and where you felt them in your body. Did you feel your heart rate increase, stomach ache, stiffness, or a flushed feeling? Write down the feelings you experienced as well.

 

Determine if your feelings are related to a trigger or if they are rooted in the here and now. Sometimes, we may feel uncomfortable when reminded of an experience or feeling that we haven't resolved yet. This is what we call a trigger.  How to handle triggers.docx  It’s important to acknowledge it, but we should avoid reacting outwardly. Instead, we can take some time to address it internally later.

 

To create some space for your feelings, take deep breaths.  Approach your feelings with curiosity and ask yourself, "What is this feeling trying to tell me?" Try to figure out if this feeling is related to something from the past or if it is related to the present moment. If it’s a trigger, don’t act on it initially. 

 

Accept Your Emotions and Feelings.

It's okay if you don't enjoy the physical sensation you encounter; it's all about accepting your particular emotion and holding space for it.  Remember, you’re building a tolerance for the emotions so that you can sit with your feelings and better understand them.

 

Express Your Emotions

If your feelings are based on the here and now, decide what action to take.  Do you need to talk to someone, advocate for yourself, or perhaps just allow the feeling to be? When expressing your feelings to someone else, use  I feel statements: "I feel ___ about ___."

 

Practice Self-Care

Taking care of ourselves involves ensuring we get enough sleep, eating good food, doing things we enjoy, standing up for ourselves, and sharing our feelings with close friends we trust.

 

We can maintain good physical and mental health by learning to recognize, accept, and express our feelings positively and healthily. Remember, it's okay to feel what we feel.

 

 

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