It might sound a bit strange, but quite often we are not aware of our own feelings.
Think about it, haven’t you ever watched a suspense movie and only after the movie is over you realize how tense you were the whole time? Or maybe you were working so focused on a task for hour, and only when you stop for a break you feel the tension in your shoulders and neck?
Frowned eyebrows, tense shoulders, clenched hand… how can have all these symptoms of tension without being aware of what we’re feeling?
Sometimes we actually know we are feeling something, we just don’t know exactly what it is: stress, anxiety, fear… it can be surprisingly hard to tell them apart when you are the one feeling them! And knwing what is happening with you is the first step to understanding how to deal with it.
That’s why it is important to develop emotional awareness and increase our EQ (Emotional Quotient)
Why become familiar with thoughts and feelings
You can’t choose what you feel, but you can decide how to deal with it. Knowing what you are feeling allows you to enjoy the good feelings and choose the best way to react to the bad ones. And that can make all the difference!
- If you realize you are tense, you can actively relax your shoulders and take a deep breath
- When you’re sad, you can call a good friend to have a chat, or think of 10 things that you are grateful for
- Sometimes we feel angry, and then we can take a deep breath to help the tension flow away from the body
- And so on
It might not always solve the situation completely, but it can definitely help. A lot!
A simple practice for developing emotional awareness
So here is a simple practice to help you develop emotional awareness:
1 – Get your cellphone or an alarm clock and set it to ring at two different times of the day.
- You can choose any time you want, but avoid hours when you know you’ll be busy (meetings, appointments, etc)
2 – When the alarm rings, take note of:
- What are you doing at that moment?
- How are you feeling?
- happy? sad? anxious? Relaxed? – Try to be specific
- If it’s a good feeling, enjoy it for a few seconds
- If the feeling is not so good, take a deep breath and then let the air out
- Is any part of you body tense? Neck? Lips? Hads? Feet? Try to relax
3 – What were you thinking about when the alarm rang?
- Is what you were thinking connected to how you were feeling?
4 – How you feel about what you are doing? (Do you like it?)
5 – Repeat the next time the alarm rings
6 – Repeat the procedure for at least a week to give your mind and body a chance to get into the practice. We recommend 30 days.
Things to think about
We recommend writing your answers down in a piece of paper or using your computer. Writing it in a journal entry is even better!. If you don’t want to write or you don’t have anything to on, it’s ok. Just thinking about the answers is actually the most important.
The idea is to train your mind to pay attention to what you are feeling, what you are thinking, how these relate to each other and how they affect your body. Just by doing this mental exercise regularly, you will increase your emotional awareness.
If you decide to write down your answers, you will have the opportunity to look back at some point and see how you have been feeling and what you have been thinking during the time of your practice. Keeping track of our thoughts and feelings is a great way of increasing our self awareness!
If you are taking notes, by the end of every week of practice go back and read what you wrote. See if you can make connections between thoughts and feelings, and these with events that happened and the people you have met. This is a great exercise for developing both emotional awareness and self awareness.
- Don’t censor yourself. You are doing this for yourself, so be honest with your answers
- Don’t judge yourself! Whatever you are feeling or thinking, it’s ok. We all go through ups and downs, so allow yourself to do that too. That’s part of being human. The idea here is just to pay attention to what is going on with us.
- Don’t react on what you are thinking or feeling. Just acknowledge your thoughts and feelings, take notice or write them down, and move on.
- If you’re in a rush, each stop can be very quick just one minute, 30 seconds. Just think: what am I feeling? What am I thinking about? Done.
- If the idea of writing makes you feel lazy about doing the practice, then don’t write. The focus here is thinking about the answers, and that will already boost your emotional awareness considerably. Writing is just a bonus.
How long should I practice?
We recommend 30 days so that you have time to get into the practice and experience different thoughts and feelings.
To make it more interesting you can try the following schedule:
- First week: Set the alarm to ring only once a day
- Second week: Set the alarm to ring twice a day
- Third week: You got it: set the alarm to 3 times per day
- Fourth week: If it’s not too much, try 4 times per day
Proceeding this way has some advantages. If you start slower, you give yourself time to get used to the practice, so that it doesn’t become a hassle.
Using multiple alarms per day will give you the chance to see how you feel while doing different activities and at different periods of the day
What to expect
The goal of this practice is just to be aware of yourself without any judgement. To take a few moments a day to focus on ourselves: what am I feeling? What am I thinking? Is it affecting my body? Just that.
With time, this simple exercise will increase your emotional awareness and EQ, and this knowledge will be the base for future transformational movements.
You’ll learn about how your thoughts and emotions relate to each other. You’ll see that even though thoughts and emotions are part of you, you are also much more.
You’ll see that even though we can’t always control how we feel and what we think, we can learn how to let go of them. You can acknowledge that they are there, you understand you can’t avoid them from appearing, but you know that they do not control you. We can learn to react to them as we want, instead of being forced into reactions by feelings we don’t wish to follow (anger, jealousy, anxiety, and so on).
Slowly you’ll learn to let go of thoughts and emotions when they are not positive.
As you become more familiar with the idea of inspecting your own emotions and thoughts, you will be more free to enjoy the positive ones and more efficient in letting go of the ones that you don’t want in your life. You’ll get more freedom and autonomy over yourself.
It’s a beautiful journey that will happen one step at a time!