For most of us, when it comes to emotions, our thinking is often unclear. Most of us enjoy positive emotions, often looking to things outside rather than inside of us to produce them more frequently and intensely. Most of us dislike negative emotions, denying or repressing them so quickly we make little time to truly understand how they were produced, what we can learn from them, and how to encourage different responses, ones of our own choosing. Because of the volatile nature of emotions, at one time or another and sometimes habitually, many of us repress emotions in an effort to avoid conflict and maintain control. Unsure of where they come from or how they were produced we simply react to our emotions, thinking that they are natural, thus inevitable, or that something outside us produces them, thus we are not responsible for them. Even though our emotions can be highly subjective and individual we think of them as universally justified and even though they often change quickly we think of our habitual reactions to them as unchangeable.
In reality, we’re responsible for our emotions. They’re our reactions. When we find that we tend to react to certain things in predictable ways we may become more interested in learning more about our emotions. When we find that we can choose our reactions we may become more interested in developing our emotions.
Awareness is the first step to developing your emotions. Becoming more conscious of our emotions helps us to understand them better, to be less controlled by them, to choose our responses to them, and even to work with them to reduce, intensify, or even change them. In time, you may even find you respond to other people’s emotions differently.
Try this meditation.
Simply observe your emotions – and everything that surrounds them.
If you find it challenging to focus on a specific emotion, try bringing to mind an event that evokes it for you.
Don’t judge or attempt to change your emotions – or yourself.
What words would you use to describe an emotion?
Are your emotional reactions linked to specific events in your life or ideas you hold?
Identify the physical sensations in your body that accompany an emotion for you.
Over time, does an emotion stay the same or change in intensity or quality for you?
Do you stay with or return to one emotion more frequently than others?
Do your emotions follow any predictable patterns?
Let your emotions flow, allowing them to persist, change or fade without intervention.
Observe your emotions as if they are only one part of you. While you’re feeling an emotion, it may help to simply state “I am feeling …” which can help increase your awareness of both your active role in their existence and the transitory nature of your emotions.