Understanding EmotionsNov 17, 2021
How Can I Understand My Emotions?
When we look at emotions, what do they mean? If we don’t understand or have the ability to name our emotions beyond Anger or Sadness, how do we know what tools and skills to pull out to help us manage the situation we are faced with. I want to take some time to help you understand emotions, and how they show up. I’ll then give you some hints, tips, and ideas on how to help regulate your emotions.
There are the five core emotions that we learn as a child. Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness. Sometimes we experience these feelings one at a time, but most often emotions are a combination of a jumbled mix with varying degrees of intensity that leave us feeling like we’ve been knocked off our feet by crashing waves, pulled out to sea, and tossed back face first in the sand.
Let’s break it down
We grow and flourish when we feel Joy. Hope, Happiness, Gratitude, Optimism all come about because our basic needs of feeling safe, connected, and loved are being met. We should want more of this feeling in life. However, avoidance of positive emotion is not that unusual. We tend to minimize Joy in our lives by suppressing and denying ourselves the expression of these great feelings. I’ve heard it referred to as “Happiness Roadblocks” making our emotional state feel even more challenging. Know that if you learn to embrace Joy, you can help yourself avoid such issues as depression and inflammation.
How often do we say to ourselves “I’m feeling scared about what this means for me” (or my job, my health, my family)? What sits below fear is stress, insecurity, and feeling trapped or vulnerable so we become worried and guarded. Fear is response to a perception of threats and not always actual threats. Understand there is no wrong way to experience Fear. To help you overcome this feeling, find a distraction, take a step back to determine if “this” will really hurt me, do your best to face it head on, or even talk it through with someone you trust.
Anger is known as a secondary emotion because there is so much underneath. This is the strongest and most dangerous emotion and can be a result of suppressing other feelings like sadness or fear. Anger shows up as frustration, jealousy, rage, and aggression towards others. Take a deep breath, try humour, or change your surroundings as this often helps get a new perspective and allows you to express your anger in a constructive way.
Disgust is often a result of unpleasant or unwelcome situations. If left alone it can lead to dislike of people, places or situations and even make you dislike yourself. Practice compassion by learning to understand the things that cause discomfort and look beyond the person to focus on the behavior that causes you to feel disgust.
Where does the feeling of sadness really come from and what does it mean? We all experience some form of loss ranging from insignificant to overwhelming. Sadness can be triggered by a specific event or simply creep up over time. This emotion might stem from being tired, having regret or disappointment, loneliness, or rejection. A simple act of kindness may lift you up. Reaching out to family and friends or opening up to a mental health professional are also very helpful.
We tend to bury our feelings – even our most rewarding ones. Coming to terms with our feelings by going just a little deeper and naming the underlying feelings will help us get to the root of our emotions so we now have bite sized pieces to work with and change.
Getting to know your emotions will help you understand you just a little bit more.
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