Today on my IGTV, I broke down how gaining emotional intelligence and relational awareness opened my life to so much beauty. It gave me an expansive perspective of my experiences and quite honestly it felt like someone flipped a switch in my psyche and I was able to have more clarity in my life.
Learning why you have emotions, how they can serve adaptive functions for you, and how they can benefit you in some ways is crucial to understanding them and allowing them to improve your human experience.
When our basic needs are met and we feel safe and content, we hold more space to be
curious, motivated, and ready to engage and learn with and from others. These emotional states support our cognitive functions and allow us to pay attention, assimilate information, and learn.
On the flip side of that, I think you can relate to when we’re hijacked by intense emotions, especially unpleasant ones such as anger or despair. We become disengaged, distracted, and our thoughts often revert to being rooted in fear, pain, past, or future thinking.
We need to reassess the underlying assumptions we have about emotions. ESPECIALLY the ones we are deeming as “bad” ones, like anger, anxiety, or sadness.
Dr. Marc Brackett, PhD from Yale and author of Permission to Feel reports, “There is no such thing as a bad emotion,” Brackett says, “It’s really how much time you spend in that feeling and how you regulate that feeling that matters.”
Bracket suggests we become emotion scientists vs. emotion judges (this we will break down on my IG tomorrow).
We often judge feelings as “good” or “bad” by whether or not they are pleasant or unpleasant: "Happiness is good, while anger is bad."
Feelings, whether they are pleasant or unpleasant, are adaptive and useful.
They provide us with really important information about what’s going on around us and within us. In other words, even unpleasant emotions can be “good" and serve as messengers towards our most fulfilled lives.
Things to understand about emotions:
1. Behavior does not equal emotion
Behavior is a combination of the complex feelings, thoughts, and actions within your experience.
If someone yells at your, you may assume he/she is angry because those are “angry behaviors."
But realize, there are not angry or a sad behaviors.
Anger or sadness could be an expression of passion about a cause, frustration over a blocked goal, or disappointment over unmet expectations.
And so, again, Brackett suggests that it is crucial that we become emotion scientists.
When we are scientists, we seek to find out the story behind the behavior, in order to find the emotion underlying the behavior. We are curious. We want to really see and understand.
2. Emotions may hold a bias
We are biased by our own emotional experiences and personal histories.
It is very easy for us to make judgments of others based on these biases.
We think, “I felt X when that same situation happened to me, so that person must feel X too.” Or, “when I act that way, it’s because I’m feeling Y, so she must be feeling Y.”
Being an emotion scientist means remaining objective to our own subjectivity and the limitations of our views, so we can see others’ emotions objectively too.
How flexible our emotion regulation is, has as large correlation with how we experience things, so over the next week, we will be using Brackett's RULER concept to unpack emotions in more depth.
Recognizing emotions in oneself and others
Understanding the causes and consequences of emotions
Labeling emotions with a nuanced vocabulary
Expressing emotions in accordance with cultural norms and social context
Regulating emotions with helpful strategies
So here are a few questions I leave you with for the week:
1. Do you give yourself permission to feel all of your emotions (the pleasant and unpleasant ones)?
2. Are you allowing yourself to fully express your feelings (to yourself and to others)?
3. Can you sit with your emotions, listen, and dialogue to receive the information they are trying to tell you?
When we can become emotion scientists, we are able to open ourselves to the possibility of new and exciting aspects of life, lessons, and relationships.
To view, this blog via IGTV, go here.