Are you and your emotions friends?
We often hear of the importance of our mental health and how we need to look after it, yet we don’t hear of emotional wellbeing quite so often. Yet emotional wellbeing, is to me, super important.
For our emotions can be pesky things which get in the way of us accepting ourselves, living in the moment, going for what we want, communicating our needs, being present, taking care of our selves and so on.
Our emotions occur relatively spontaneously in response to a stimulus, be that a thought, an interaction, a sensation in the body and we make it mean something such as I’m so scared of doing this… I hate that… I feel so mad… etc and create a story in response to the stimulus.
This may well feel the correct emotion at the time but it may not be or you may respond in a way which is detrimental to you or someone else. You may replay the story in your mind so you keep feeling the emotion and can end up in a stuck cycle. This can feel uncomfortable and to counteract the uncomfortableness you numb out that feeling with food, alcohol and/or distractions.
I am not for one moment saying don’t have emotion, as I think it is pretty impossible to not have any, although some people may not be in tune with their emotions.
What I am suggesting is that we get curious with our emotions.
Start to notice:
- The sensations in your body such as a heaviness, tension, fast breathing, contractions, expansion, lightness, slow breathing, tingles, tummy lurches… what do you think those sensations are informing you of?
- The thoughts in your mind, which can be many. Anything from; this is the most amazing thing I have ever done, the most wonderful person I have been with, to; this is so hard, that person is truly awful, and many many other thoughts in between. Where did these thoughts come from? Old stories? Old memories? What other people have told you? What happens when you listen to your thoughts?
- The behaviours you display be that outward or inward. Do you laugh and hug? Do you silently squirm? Do you jump up and down? Do you have a stiff upper lip?
From your noticing your reactions, what do you label your emotion? Is this useful to you or not?
I heard recently from a TEDX talk by Alan Watts that there are 34,000 emotions!! Could you name that many? Hands up I don’t think I can. The point though is if there are so many emotions it has to stand that our emotions are very nuanced. Very subtle and open to interpretation.
Emotions can be very discrete and subjective, they don’t last very long although the label and the story we give them can last for what seems like forever!
If we start to explore our emotional landscape, what they feel like, the behaviour we display, the thoughts we have… then you can start to play with the idea of what emotions would serve me better? How do I really want to feel? What thoughts will allow me to feel that emotion? Can I notice and relabel the sensation I feel so I encapsulate a better emotion?
In choosing an emotion to serve you, can you have better emotional wellbeing?
Have a play around with your emotions and see how your emotions can be your friend!