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  • Peg Hunt

Effectively Leveraging All Your Emotions

In the last blog, we talked about compassion for yourself. This blog digs deeper into how we relate to our negative emotions—those that we may wish away or judge. We often characterize our emotions as good or bad, positive, or negative. Sometimes, when we feel “negative” emotions we may deny our feelings (consciously or unconsciously) or tell ourselves that we have no right to our negative emotion “because others have it so much worse.” The thing is, we don’t have to “deserve” how we feel, we just get to feel how we feel. And emotions are informative. Recognizing the full emotional landscape is the beginning of self-care and compassion and provides information to better solve problems and effectively manage our relationships. If we cannot access or accept all emotions, it’s like sitting on a stool that’s missing a leg—the foundation is unstable.

We are all at different places on the journey of emotional self-awareness. Here are some ideas that may help you on your journey:

  • First, try to name the emotion you are feeling. For example, I’m sad/mad/glad/afraid. Have you ever felt that you needed a drop-down menu for how you might feel? There are many helpful tools, one tool is an app called Mood Meter that lets you pick a name for the emotion you are feeling.

  • One strategy for acknowledging a negative emotion is to think about that emotion as only a part of you-- ‘A part of me is angry’ versus ‘I am angry’. When we do this, it keeps the emotion in perspective, and may be less overwhelming.

  • Once the emotion is named, we can ask ourselves, what is the need at the root of this feeling? I may feel sad because I am lonely, I may feel sad about a loss, I may feel sad because I hurt someone, etc.

  • Finally, ask yourself if there is anything you want to do about this feeling or the underlying need? Sometimes just acknowledging a feeling is enough. Sometimes we need to act regarding the unmet need. For example, if I feel sad because I am lonely, I may need to reach out to a friend or create a plan to enlarge my social circle; if I am sad because I hurt someone, I may need to make amends.

The hardest part can often be acknowledging and naming the emotion but once that is done, it becomes much easier to decide to what to do. When we are aware of all our emotions, we are better prepared to act in our best interest and the interest of others. A client who was reluctant to acknowledge her more negative emotions, worked on allowing herself to acknowledge and explore them. As a result, she described feeling more herself and at peace (she found the missing leg of the stool).

Coaching can support a deeper understanding of your emotions and how they inform your choices. Please contact me for a free consultation:

©Peg Hunt and Anne Garing

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