Try this exercise for at least 1-2 weeks in order to fully understand your emotions and receive clarity about your default emotional states. This exercise will reveal your subconscious patterns and will show you how you revert to certain emotional patterns and operate from these reactive places without even realising it.
So let's get started.
Create an Emotion Journal that you will be using for the next 1-2 weeks. You will observe your negative emotions when they arise and you will write them down in your journal every day. By doing this you will learn to recognise your negative emotions and become aware of them when they come up during the day.
1. Recognise your Negative Emotions
Every time you experience a negative emotion (anger, fear, shame, guilt, worry etc.) write it down in your journal and elicit:
What was the circumstance in which I felt this emotion?
What caused or triggered the emotion?
How did I feel and what was really behind my feelings?
Why did I feel the way I felt?
Make sure you look at every situation impartially. It is not about blaming yourself or others or being right or wrong, but rather to help you understand your emotions and when and how they arise.
Be gentle with yourself during this process. The aim is to be able to catch yourself when responding to a situation with a negative or unwanted emotion. When this happens, you create a space where you can purely observe your emotions (without judging them). The simple act of observing from an outside perspective will help you shift your perception and allow for a deeper connection with yourself.
2. Find the Underlying Cause of your Emotions
The next step is to identify the underlying cause. This step is crucial if you want to understand why certain patterns or events recur in your life. Once you find the root cause, you will have a better understanding of your emotions and the meaning behind them. This will help you recognise certain repeating patterns and give you the chance to make a conscious decision about how you will react next time. To find the root cause, ask yourself the following questions:
When was the first time I felt this way?
What childhood event possibly triggered these feelings?
How did this event make me feel?
3. Discover how Emotions Impact your Life
If you have read this far, I know you are serious about making positive changes in your life and you are committed to getting the results you want. So let's dig even deeper. The next step is to uncover and acknowledge the effect this specific emotion has on your life by asking the following questions:
What is the story I am telling myself about this situation?
How has this story affected my whole life?
What belief(s) did I create to back up or validate my experience?
4. Release your Unwanted Emotions
We are almost there, but this final step is something you don't want to skip.
Doing the first 3 steps only will create a recognition in your life, but you want to go one step further and make the most important step of releasing your unwanted emotions. You can do this by asking yourself the following questions:
Am I ready to release this reactive emotion?
Is this belief/story supporting me or sabotaging my happiness/success?
Am I willing to let go of the story and create a new belief?
Remind yourself when a negative emotion comes up that it is ok, and instead of being annoyed or upset about it, kindly say to yourself: Here it is again: my old story, my old belief, my old way of reacting. Take a few deep breaths, release tension from your body, drop down from your head into your heart space, release the need to think and instead feel into it.
Experience the sensations of the emotion. Observe it only as a physical or bodily sensation rather than a story you are attached to. It helps you if you look down while going through this experience as this will connect you with your feelings. When you look up you create a mental state that produces thoughts and this will distract you from getting in touch with your true feelings.
At this stage, you don't need to do anything, solely be with the experience. Stay in the present moment, observe what is happening, breathe and feel the emotion. Emotion is energy in motion. Discover this energy behind your emotion!
Once you understand that emotion is just energy moving through your body, you will find it much easier to unidentify from it. You are not your emotions.
Don't try to resist your emotions as this will create an energetic attraction to more of the same negative vibration, while keeping you stuck and unable to move through your feelings. You know the saying, “What you resist persists.” Suppressing your emotions will only create the false impression of having dealt with the problem, when in reality you just stopped the full expression of how you felt, blocking it from naturally dissolving on its own.
Well done for seeing this journey through to the end! The purpose of this exercise is to create a positive change in your life. Understanding this concept intellectually is not enough. Real learning and change happens through personal experience, so work with your emotions daily to achieve the best results.
Getting in touch with your feelings will greatly benefit you and will allow you to experience life more fully.
Your emotions are always showing you something, so take time every day to check in with yourself and feel the feelings you have. Learn to embrace them. Your emotions are your friends, not your enemies.
Keep practising every day and become aware that most of your negative emotions are simply old habits that you have been repeating subconsciously.
There is an immense intelligence behind every negative emotion. The purpose of each emotion is to show you what needs of yours have not been met. They are the greatest motivators of you life by asking you to pay attention to what feels good and what doesn't. We have the most fascinating (and useful) guidance system built into us and we have ignored it all along. So let's change this now by learning to express our emotions and embracing our true nature.
5. Change your Unwanted Emotions
If during this process you discover that you have one major recurring emotional state (e.g. anger) that you unconsciously revert to most of the time, then please add an extra step to this exercise. If you have been defaulting to one emotion regularly throughout your life then we cannot simply remove that state, as that can cause an emptiness or a loss of direction.
Once you recognise the main negative emotion that you no longer want to revert to, I suggest that you choose a positive emotion that you would like to replace it with in the future. Replacing the unwanted emotion with a desired (supporting) emotion will shift you to a new energetic level where you can experience life in a more meaningful way. This simple step will move you into an empowered state where you are no longer a victim to your external reality, but a conscious co-creator of your life.
Following this process and journaling your emotions will require some dedication on your part and an expanded awareness to recognise your emotions in the moments when they arise. Change only happens in the now, not tomorrow or next week. This is your chance to create a new habit that will support you instead of sabotage you.
I hope you will make a commitment to practice this exercise daily and keep your emotions a priority in your life. Remember that you always have a choice of how you react. You may not be able to control how external events and people show up in your life, but you are always in charge of how you react to them. Observing and understanding your emotions will greatly benefit you as well as the people around you. So it is time to discover the meaning and purpose of your emotions and to change your life for the better.