Our emotions are powerful, born of countless unknowable forces and planted by childhood events we may never consciously recall. For many of us, they exist as shrouded mysterious urges we mostly focus on managing and suppressing.
But, it doesn’t have to be that way. They are in us for a reason: to be a dashboard which displays the state of our entire being. Learning to listen to and name the read-outs on that dashboard is essential to caring for ourselves and loving other people.
Here is a guided path towards understanding what our hearts are telling us:
How to identify what kind of emotion you are feeling in seven easy steps.
Tune into the prompting event that caused the emotion and consider what sort of an event it is.
The nature of an event is a powerful clue as to the impact it may be having on you — though other factors could cause you to respond in a completely different way.
Next, note your interpretation of the event.
Are you seeing it as others around you are or are you looking at it through very different lenses? If different, then how and why?
Note any physical sensations you encountered during the event.
Did you shake, get hot, feel flushed, have trouble looking at the other person, experience a change in sexual response, feel your heart race, experience your body relaxing? Our bodies can sometimes tell us what we are feeling even before our minds can apprehend such. What do those physiological responses tell you?
Note your body language.
Did you find yourself clenching your fists, hugging yourself, crossing your arms, turning your body towards/away, find yourself looking down/away/glaring at the other or standing erect/slumping? What do those physical actions tell you that you were unconsciously trying to accomplish?
Next, attend to any sort of action urge you experienced during the event.
Did you want to run away or hide, hit the other person, explode and yell, hurt the other person, hug the other person or want to make love to/have sex with the other person? What sort of internal dynamics do those urges imply?
Examine any action you actually took.
Was it the same or different from #5? (If it was the same, this step is likely redundant. If it was different, then is there an ambivalence or two conflictual emotions present?)
Now, based on previous items above, use the below chart to precisely identify the emotion name(s) you are experiencing.
The sooner we figure out what we are feeling, the earlier into an interaction we are able to draw from the wisdom our hearts have to bring to any interchange.
If that wisdom becomes effectively blended with our mind and our other senses, we gain the ability to choose how we engage others instead of finding ourselves driven in irrational ways.
And, sometimes, we then gain the ability to put our responses aside for a moment, step out of ourselves and then experience what the other person is experiencing.
That’s where compassion and empathy start and senseless wars end.