How to identify and accept our emotions?

August 8, 2019

Have you ever felt physically unwell after undergoing one of life’s big challenges, regardless of which kind? Physical and mental wellness go hand in hand, so it is natural to feel a certain discomfort in the absence of a connection with your deepest emotions.

Your personal emotional adventure starts with identifying, and then accepting your emotions. It’s essential not to fight them, as they are intrinsic to the human experience and part of life’s many flavours. In fact, fighting these emotions generally only leads to exacerbating them. On the contrary, it’s important to own your emotions and cherish them, as they are precious—and what make us complex beings who are fundamentally sensitive.

It’s also important to know that society has a tendency to label certain emotions as “negative” (such as anger, or sadness, for example), despite them being completely normal, valid, and even useful to our personal evolution. It is therefore crucial to change your view of these so-called “negative” emotions, to accept them, stop judging them, and ensure to follow them up with constructive actions. In fact, the emotions only become negative if the actions that come from them are destructive, as opposed to constructive.

A few techniques

Identifying your emotions often starts with an inner scan (also called body scan or emotional scan). Try it by taking the time to stop and reconnect with your body. You can do it at any time of the day; what’s important is that your choice of location promotes calm and full consciousness. Breathing exercises can also help calm your spirit and enable you to reconnect with what is essential. Start your scan by taking at least five deep breaths. Inhale for five seconds, and then exhale for another five seconds.

Then, try to name your emotions. The following questions can help you sort through your feelings:

  • What is my inner weather? Is it sunny? Raining? Windy? Is there thunder?
  • Am I tense? On edge?
  • Am I tired? Or feeling passive?
  • Am I impatient?
  • Do I feel like crying? Would crying make me feel better?

To understand the fundamental emotion behind your feelings, have a look at the chart below. For example, anxiety often stems from a deeper emotion—fear—which can manifest itself in many ways.

Joy Anger Fear Sadness Surprise Disgust
Amorous Annoyed Nervous Downcast Astounded Bitter
Happy Agitated Anxious Afflicted Amazed Averse
Delighted Aggressive Fearful Distressed Enthusiastic Resentful
Cheerful Displeased Frightened Hurt Astonished Hurt
Overjoyed Exasperated Worried Saddened Impatient Nauseated
Excited Offended Horrified Disappointed Shaken Intimidated
Passionate Furious Suspicious Desperate Stunned Irritated
Delighted Hostile Preoccupied Sorry Dumbfounded Contempt
Satisfied Irritated Terrified Regretful Troubled Rejected

The benefits of connecting with your emotions

Emotions are often much less scary once they’ve been identified. You must then try to welcome them without judgment, and experience them in full consciousness. Identifying your emotions often encourages you to think about the reason you are feeling them. Once you’ve found the reason behind them, what’s important is to move toward positive actions. The emotions will therefore no longer be perceived as negative, but rather as a way of improving your wellness and evolving as a person.

As explained by psychologist Brannon Patrick in the Identifying and Connecting to Emotions episode of the podcast entitled The Betrayed, The Addicted & The Expert, emotions that aren’t identified and accepted don’t magically disappear. On the contrary, they accumulate in your head and body, and end up manifesting in different ways. Firstly, denying your emotions can lead to physical problems such as heartburn, insomnia, eczema, etc. It is also possible that because these emotions must be let out eventually one way or another, they can lead to chronic anxiety, new phobias, and even bouts of depression.

Therefore, the better your mental health, the healthier you tend to be physically, and vice versa. We therefore invite you to try to scan your emotions, and accept them: they are completely natural, and crucial to your well-being.