3 Amazing Ways to Understand Your Emotions Better

Developing emotional intelligence and resilience improves quality of life and workplace effectiveness at all levels. By better understanding and managing our emotions, we can better navigate challenging situations and build more constructive relationships with others. This approach helps us not only to react to our emotions, but also to learn from them, thereby enhancing our personal and professional growth.

Written by: Rob - CoachLab.hu

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3 Amazing Ways to Understand Your Emotions Better

/Formás: Susan David - 2016./

The managing emotions effectively is an important leadership skill. Naming your emotions - what psychologists call labelling - is an important first step in dealing with them effectively. But it is harder than it sounds; for many of us it is challenging to identify exactly what we are feeling, and often the most obvious label is not the most accurate.

3 Ways to Better Understand Your Emotions
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There are several reasons for this: we have been brought up to suppress strong emotions. There are certain (sometimes unspoken) social and organisational rules that prohibit their expression. Or we have never learned a language that accurately describes our emotions. Take these two cases, for example:

Neena is in a meeting with Jared, and the whole time he's saying things that make her explode. Jared cuts in every time and reminds everyone again of the project he was working on that failed. Neena is very angry.

Mikhail comes home after a long day and hangs up his coat, sighing. His wife asks him if something is wrong. "I'm just stressed," he says as he pulls out his laptop to finish a report.

Anger and stress are two emotions that we often see in the workplace - or at least they are the terms we use most often. Yet they are often masks that hide deeper feelings that we should describe more accurately and nuanced to develop greater emotional resilience. This ability is critical to more successfully interact with ourselves and the world (more on emotional resilience in my new book, available here).

Neena may indeed be angry, but what if she is also sad? Sad that her project has failed, and perhaps worried that this failure will haunt her career. Jared's frequent interjections only add to this worry. Why did the project fail? And what will happen to his job now? All of these emotions are fueling his anger, but they are separate feelings that he needs to acknowledge and deal with.

And what if Mikhail's stress is because he is simply not sure he is in the right career? Long days used to be fun - why aren't they any more? It's certainly stressful, but what's really going on in the background?

These questions open up a potential world of investigation and response for Neena and Mikhail. Like them, we need a more nuanced emotional vocabulary, not just for accuracy, but because misdiagnosing our emotions leads to misdiagnosing our responses. If we think we need to deal with our anger, we'll take a different approach than if we deal with frustration or anxiety - or don't deal with them at all.

It has been shown that when people do not recognise and manage their emotions, they show lower well-being and more physical symptoms of stress, such as headaches. There is a high cost to avoiding emotions. Conversely, when we have the right vocabulary, we can see the problem at hand better - to understand a troubling experience more clearly and make a plan to deal with it.

Here are three ways to get a more accurate and precise picture of your emotions:

1. Expand your Emotional Vocabulary

Words matter. When you experience a strong emotion, take a moment to name it. But don't stop there: after you've identified it, try to find two more words that describe how you feel. You may be surprised at the breadth of your feelings - or that you unearth a deeper emotion behind the more obvious one.

Here is a vocabulary list of emotional terms; you can find many more by Googling any of them.

2. The Emotion Intensity Test

3 Ways to Better Understand Your Emotions
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3 Ways to Better Understand Your Emotions

Hajlamosak vagyunk alapvető leírásokra ugrani, mint például „dühös” vagy „stresszes”, még akkor is, ha érzéseink sokkal kevésbé extrémek. Volt egy ügyfelem, Ed (nem az igazi neve), aki a házasságával küzdött; gyakran leírta a feleségét „dühösnek”, és gyakran ő is dühös lett cserébe. De ahogy a szókincs diagram sugallja, minden érzelemnek számos íze van. Amikor más szavakat használtunk a felesége érzelmeire, Ed rájött, hogy voltak idők, amikor talán csak bosszús vagy türelmetlen volt. Ez az új felismerés átalakította kapcsolatukat, mert hirtelen láthatta, hogy a felesége nem volt mindig csak dühös. Ez azt jelentette, hogy valójában reagálhatott a felesége konkrét érzelmeire és aggodalmaira anélkül, hogy ő maga is dühös lett volna. Hasonlóképpen, fontos az önértékelés során, hogy megkülönböztessük, hogy dühösek vagyunk, vagy csak morcosak, gyászolunk vagy csak csalódottak, elragadtatottak vagy csak elégedettek.

When you label your feelings, rate them on a scale of 1-10. How strongly do you feel the emotion? How urgent or strong? Can this lead to other word choices?

3. Write it down

James Pennebaker has been researching the links between writing and emotional processing for forty years. His experiments have shown that people who write about emotionally distressing events experience significant improvements in their physical and mental well-being. their mental well-being. In addition, a study of recently dismissed workers found that those who were immersed in feelings of humiliation, anger, anxiety and relationship difficulties were three times more likely to be re-employed than controls.

These experiments also showed that, over time, those who wrote about their feelings began to understand what those feelings meant (or didn't mean!), using phrases such as "I learned", "I realized that", "the reason why", "I now understand", and "I get it". The process of writing gave them a new perspective on their feelings and a clearer understanding of their meaning and consequences.

Here is an exercise you can use as a reflection on your writing. You can do this every day, but it's particularly useful if you're going through a difficult time or a big change, or if you're in emotional turmoil - or if you've had a difficult experience that you think you haven't fully come to terms with.

3 Ways to Better Understand Your Emotions
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Exercise

  1. Set a timer for 20 minutes
  2. Use a notebook or computer to write down your emotional experiences of the past week, month or year.
  3. Don't worry about being perfect or legible: go where your mind takes you.
  4. In the end, you don't have to save the document; the point is that these thoughts are now out of you and onto paper.

You can also use these three approaches - vocabulary building, attention to the intensity of emotion and writing - to better understand the emotions of others. As Ed and his wife's example shows, we are just as likely to mislabel others' emotions as our own, with similar complicating consequences. By understanding more accurately what they are feeling, you will be better equipped to respond constructively.

Once you understand what you are feeling, you can better manage and learn from those more accurately described emotions. Having Neena deal with the sadness and regret she feels after a failed project - as well as the concern about what it means for her career - is much more productive than dealing with how to manage her anger toward Jared. And if Mikhail can recognize his own career-related anxiety, he can begin a develop a plan to build a more conscious future - instead of diving into the same work every night when you get home.

Emotional intelligence and developing flexibility improve quality of life and workplace efficiency at all levels. By better understanding and managing our emotions, we can better navigate challenging situations and build more constructive relationships with others. This approach helps us not only to react to our emotions, but also to learn from them, and thereby increase our personal and professional growth.

/Formás: Susan David - 2016./

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