When you have a million things on your plate, the last thing you probably ever think about doing is stopping to notice how you’re feeling. You might wonder, “What if I get caught in a funk and I can’t get out? “Who will do all the things that need to be done?”
It’s impossible to ignore our feelings with the hope that they will just go away. Many times, these repressed emotions will show up in our body as stress, anxiety, fatigue, and even insomnia.
Getting in touch with your emotions can save you from the inner turmoil of keeping your feelings bottled up, or the risk of having your emotions overflow when you least expect it.
It takes some effort and training, but becoming more aware and present with your emotions will allow you to know yourself on a deeper level. This will undoubtedly improve your communication, strengthen your sense of self and enrich your experience of life.
Start by paying attention to your body.
What changes do you notice when you’re feeling angry? Does your face flush? Do you grind your teeth? What about when you’re nervous or anxious? Can you recognize when your heart starts to beat faster? Does your breathing become shallower? Make a note of what you notice. Learning about these changes in your body will help you recognize when a feeling has emerged.
Now, pay attention to your thoughts.
What’s going through your mind while you’re feeling that emotion? Are you giving yourself a hard time because of how you are feeling? Are any “shoulds” popping up? (“I should have…” “They shoudn’t…”). What you tell yourself about how you feel will either intensify that feeling or help you better understand and accept that feeling. Are your thoughts helpful or hurtful?
Finally, pause for a few minutes.
When feelings emerge it’s tough to give yourself the time to pause, but it’s worth it. Pausing helps you not send that angry email or jump to conclusions about another person’s behaviors.
Feelings are a part of the human experience. They are simply information about what you need. If you can pause to accept what you are feeling without judgement, you will be more aware of what you need, how to respond, and will develop a stronger sense of self.