Emotions: How to Gain Awareness and Self-Control in Order to Increase Your Resilience?
Do you know how many emotions humans experience? About 34,000! With that many, it is only natural to get lost at sea within such emotional storms.
The good news is that once you acquire the below techniques, you will weather the storm, and gain momentum in sharply raising you level of resilience.
So…How best to navigate them and gain control over ourselves within such emotional storms?
At times we feel overwhelmed by our emotions and lose our sense of objectivity. As this mental high jacking takes place, our mind becomes impulsive switching into a fight flight or freeze mode. At this stage, you are unaware of your emotions. For example, when you see a snake, what happens? You notice the fear, your heart is pumping, and your mind switches into a flight mode…as you run for your life…although snake experts recommend you to freeze.
In order to understand your emotions, lets first start by defining what is an emotion. It is a response translated into a feeling. This response is triggered by a stimulus such as an animal, an object, an event, or someone for example bumping into someone you like or dislike. These feelings are primarily unconscious and as you gain consciousness of them, you then are in a state of emotional self-aware. This stimulus engenders physiological and behavioral reactions in your body such as avoidance, blushing, heart beats, sweating...
What’s the purpose of an emotion? Considerate as a data informing you that something unusual is happening. It acts like an “inner rudder” as Daniel Goleman expresses it. If you decide to neglect, ignore or distract yourself away from the emotion, it will not disappear…but will rather intensify and lead to an increased level of stress and loss of energy…
Another essential element to emotional self-awareness, is talking to yourself about your emotions while using the right terminology…and I cannot stress this enough! While you self-talk DO NOT say “I am sad”, but rather say “I am noticing the feeling of sadness”. The reason for this is that you are truly discerning a feeling, rather than personifying the sadness itself. It is also a technique which allows you to dissociate yourself from the emotion, and hence to deal with it in the most rational manner.
The best way to start is by enriching your emotional literacy, understanding how emotions relate to one another, and evolve over time while facing a challenge.
I usually use with my clients R. Plutchik wheel of emotions with the 8 primary emotions: anger, anticipation, joy, trust, fear, surprise, sadness and disgust, each have its polar opposite and each is the basics for other sub-emotions.
The uncolored section of the wheel is the combination of 2 primary emotions, for example the combination of joy and anticipation leads to optimism.
I find this tool extremely useful and handy as it facilitates your inquiry about your primary emotions (and underlying ones), therefore contributing to your emotional self-awareness.
I also recommend my clients to save it in their note’s application of their smart phone in order to refer to it on the spur of the moment.
I have another tool for you to differentiate the fact from the emotions. Here are a few steps I recommend:
1. Pause to breathe with the 3.3.5 technique. 3 seconds: inhale from the nose, 3 seconds: hold, 5 seconds: exhale from the mouth. Repeat as many times as you need.
2. Label the emotion you notice by asking yourself: I notice the feeling of i.e. sadness.
3. Fact finding: pursue your reflection and dig deeper by asking “what specifically caused it?”, “why specifically do I notice that feeling?”
4. Separate fact from emotions: this is actually what happened vs what feelings do I notice.
5. Recognize how it impacts you: reflect how specifically did it affect your feelings, your thoughts, your behaviour (what is seen by others), your performance?
6. Accept it.
7. Reflect upon what you can do about it next time. This is an essential point not to omit! The more you practice and anticipate, the better prepared you will be.
Once you put this into practice, you shall notice how effective you will become at gaining awareness of your emotions, as well as regulating them and most importantly reacting in the most effective way.
Now that you are equipped with food for thought….What do you retain? When and how will you apply this learning?
Resilience is a key determinant to your health, wellbeing, performance and life balance. It all starts in your mindset, and your mind is the temple where change takes place.
While you enjoyed the read of this article, feel free to send me your feedback and experience about resilience to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many more pertinent articles about resilience are available on my blog.
In the meantime, stay safe and tuned for my upcoming articles.
Shermeen Zeidan – your resilience coach
Certified Master Coach