3 Strategies to Increase Emotional Self-Awareness
Emotions? How are those important? Up until now, you’ve gotten through life very well, thank you, without examining too closely your emotional reactions and what you feeling. You are successful in your career and yes, you would like to have closer personal relationships with others, but somedays it just doesn’t seem worth the effort. Emotions are so difficult to figure out, and why are other people so emotional anyways? How is that helping them in their lives? If this describes you, then you might consider increasing your own emotional self-awareness so that you can start to meaningfully connect with others to have the relationships that you want.
Why Should I Work on my Emotional Self-Awareness?
In a previous article How to Use Emotions to Treat Anxiety, I talk about why emotional self-awareness is important and how to use your emotions to quiet your mind and stop your racing thoughts. Today, I’m going to talk about the basics of improving your emotional self-awareness. If you’ve ever heard someone tell you that you aren’t in touch with your emotions, or ask why don’t you feel emotions enough, then read on, this article is for you.
There are three main strategies you can use to help increase your emotional self-awareness, and these are all easy to do on a daily basis. If you are experiencing any sort of anxiety, depression, or grief, emotional self-awareness is key to getting your symptoms under control and for you to heal.
1. Emotion Charts
The simplest tool that I like to have my clients use to help them identify emotions is an Emotion Chart. An emotion chart identifies many emotions that you may not think of or even are aware of. This will expand your ability to identify not just the most common emotions but also the more subtle or complex emotions. Emotion charts connect a picture of the emotion, usually a face of a person or drawing, to the emotion itself to help you more clearly identify what you are feeling. While these are often used with children, I have found emotion charts to be invaluable with many adults.
If you want to get even more in-depth about emotions, what if I told you that there are up to 130 different emotions you can experience? Whaaaaaaat? That is a lot. This emotion wheel shows 7 main emotional reactions, and all of the secondary and tertiary emotions that are linked to those 7 emotions. While this emotion wheel can seem overwhelming at first, it is useful for you to look at and to start putting words to what you are feeling. And when you know what you are feeling, then it is much, much easier to be in control of your thoughts and actions than when you don’t know what is going on with yourself.
2. Self Check-Ins
Self check-ins are a way of purposefully taking the time to check in with your body and mind to try to identify what emotion you are feeling at any particular moment. I encourage my clients to do this up to 3x per day, and to write down the results in a journal or notepad. It takes less than a minute to get away from distractions, close your eyes, sense your body and explore your thoughts about what emotion you are feeling. To go one step further, if you can identify your emotion at the moment then see if you can identify the trigger, or what caused that emotion. You’ll start making connections between what you are feeling, and what caused that feeling. This is helpful because, again, knowing what you are feeling and what caused it helps you understand and identify typical reactions that you may have to everyday events.
3. Mood Tracking
Tracking your mood on at least a daily basis can be helpful for those of you who have more difficulty understanding how you are feeling from day to day. There are several tools and Apps that you can use for mood tracking, or you can revert to the standard paper and pencil method. A highly recommended and quality App for mood tracking is Daylio, which can track your mood daily as well as offer journaling options for you. Mood tracking is important so that you can get an idea of how you are feeling over time, especially over weeks to months. It is sometimes difficult to realize you might be feeling better when there is just a small change every day; if you track your mood for weeks, you will better be able to see the difference from a few months ago to today.
At this point hopefully you are understanding more of why emotions are so powerful, how you can increase your emotional self-awareness, and why it is important for you to increase your emotional self-awareness. The strength of your emotions and how you accept and utilize them is what we use to connect with each other, live satisfying lives, and pursue our dreams.
How We Can Help
If you are interested in increasing your emotional self-awareness, or if you would like to talk to someone more about how we can help you, follow these simple steps:
Contact us today for a free 20-minute phone consultation
Begin your journey towards a calmer, more relaxing life
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Here at Catalyss Counseling, we want to meet all of your counseling needs in the Denver area. Our supportive therapists provide depression counseling, therapy for caregiver stress, grief and loss therapy, stress management counseling and more. We also have specialists in trauma and PTSD, women's issues, pregnancy and postpartum depression or anxiety, pregnancy loss and miscarriage, and birth trauma. For therapists, we can also provide clinical supervision! We look forward to connecting with you to help support your journey today.
Shannon Heers is a psychotherapist, guest blogger, and owner of Catalyss Counseling in Englewood, CO. Shannon helps adults in professional careers manage anxiety, depression, work-life balance, and grief and loss. Follow Catalyss Counseling on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.