Hello and welcome to Friday, March 25, 2022. Today is a rare and precious day that will never come again.
This week’s practical Mindfulness support is on developing emotional awareness.
Emotions are neither good nor bad. Nevertheless, they can provide clues as to what is happening. While we feel emotions in our body and though they do provide information, emotions are not facts. Emotions can be misleading and are often exaggerated. Road rage, for instance. Emotional responses are derived through learned experiences. If we repeat an emotional response often enough, like everything else we do repeatedly, it will become a habit. Though we experience emotions continuously, emotions are transient. However, our reaction to them can have lasting effects.
What I find most intriguing is that each emotion has an associated physiological correlate and perception filter. Understanding that emotions are always present, whether we are aware of them or not, we must recognize that these emotional filters influence how we perceive and respond to any given situation. For instance, you may notice that on one day you’re not bothered by a long line at the store, while on other days, lines are intolerable.
Have you ever heard the saying that “Love is blind.”? How about this one: “Never reply when you're angry. Never make a promise when you're happy. Never make a decision when you're sad.”? Another favorite: “Don’t let your mother brush your hair when she’s mad at your father!” When we are caught up in or “identified” with an emotion, we essentially become the emotion. In other words, if we are not mindfully aware that we’re experiencing an emotion, our behavior is influenced by that emotion.
There is much we can learn about ourselves regarding how we experience emotions. Our first task is to acknowledge that we are always experiencing an emotion. In every moment in every situation, whether it is in the background or foreground, an emotion is present.
A simple exercise will help to substantiate this fact. Take out a pen and a sheet of paper and list every emotion that you’ve experienced from the time you got up this morning until now. To help jog your memory, Google a list of emotions and feelings. An emotions list will help you to call to mind emotions, feelings, and sensations that you’ve experienced thus far in this day. I invite to stop here and make your list.
Because emotions are always present, we also need to develop the ability to recognize and identify which emotion we are experiencing at any given moment. This can be accomplished by developing the ability to recognize an emotion’s physiological effect on the body – the felt sensations. Sadness, happiness, anger, etc., all feel a certain way. Frequent body scans help us to have more clarity about what is happening within our body. As we develop this introspection, we can learn to understand when and how our perception is being affected by each different emotion.
Body scans are simple. I have a free downloadable body scan on my website, or you can find them on the internet or on meditation apps like Insight Timer. Doing frequent body scans will help you to become more aware of the felt sensations in your body that signify emotions.
Without developing emotional awareness, we will find ourselves making decisions based on how we feel instead of instead of on our values. Our impulses, desires, and moods unfortunately often supersede our values. When they do, we suffer.
It’s also important to understand that we often create a tremendous amount of suffering in our desire to feel a certain way. And while it’s normal to want to experience emotions that are pleasurable – joy, happiness, delight, bliss, cheerfulness, etc., it’s unrealistic to think that we should feel pleasurable emotions all the time.
Our overall peace and contentment are dependent upon the ability to be comfortable being uncomfortable. This takes time, practice, and patience. But more than that, it takes courage. If we want more peace in our life, we need to try to ease our way into sitting with emotions that we’ve been conditioned to avoid.
As we develop more emotional awareness (and intelligence), we will see how our behaviors are influenced by our emotions. Over time and with practice, even when experiencing intense emotions, we will have access to our values and will be able to make healthy decisions. Though some emotions are quite uncomfortable, and we would rather not experience them, we will learn to be with them and allow them to change on their own.
If you would like more information or some personal instruction to get you started, I am here to help.
You are Loved by me, Unconditionally!
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