We have lived our whole lives with emotions yet often they go misunderstood or neglected. Some emotions tend to be easy to welcome and others we may reject. You may wish that others could handle their emotions better or you might wish that you could yourself.
One of the biggest difficulties around emotions is knowing how to put our feelings into words. This challenge can cause frustration and an unwillingness to share one’s emotions.
If you or someone you know has trouble understanding their emotions this “How are you feeling today chart”, may help. It provides a starting point to help you develop an emotional vocabulary. This chart is tailored toward helping teens and adults understand their emotions. At the end of this article, we also share with you four ways to improve emotional awareness.
How does an emotions chart work?
There are three levels provided within this chart starting from the basic emotions and gradually becoming more specific.
You can start by identifying the basic emotion you or someone is experiencing then find the more specific emotion. Understanding your emotions more fully helps to provide a greater perspective and appreciation for the variety of emotions that we experience.
You can also use this chart starting with a specific emotion. For example, you may be feeling ignored and insulted after a particular incident. By using the chart, you notice that these feelings belong to two basic emotions – sadness and anger. It is then important that both the anger and sadness are recognised and addressed.
The basic emotions used in this chart
This chart uses the five basic emotions of happiness, sadness, anger, fear, and disgust. This is a simplification of Paul Ekman’s six basic emotions. These also happen to be the five basic emotions used in the movie Inside Out. This is a great movie about emotional awareness that I recommend watching.
Keep in mind that this chart is not a complete list of emotions. Many other feelings can be explored using the ones listed here as a guide. It is also likely that at times you will experience a combination of the basic emotions– these are called complex emotions. Some examples of complex emotions include grief, hate, and regret. For example, hate is a mixture of the basic emotions of fear, anger, and disgust.
Ways to improve emotional awareness
The benefits of becoming more emotionally aware are huge! It will allow you to feel more confident within yourself and your life. It will allow you to reach your goals more easily as you stop getting in your own way. Most importantly, it will improve all your relationships and therefore your overall quality of life.
Here are four ways to begin improving your emotional awareness:
1. Make time to recognise your emotions.
Just as it takes time to understand and become comfortable with a good friend. It also takes time to understand and become friends with your emotions.
When you notice that you are acting from a place of fear or anger, pause. When you notice that you are pleasure-seeking to avoid emotion, pause. When you can, take a moment to sit with the sensations in your body and understand what is going on for you. This is a practice, and you will get better at it over time.
2. Use an emotions chart.
An emotional chart is a great support as you make time to recognise your emotions. After feeling and sitting with the emotional sensations in your body, use the chart to put your feelings into words. Being able to recognise the specific emotion that you are feeling helps you to feel more empowered and less overwhelmed.
3. Understand that emotions are messengers, they are not bad.
While sitting with and recognising your emotions it’s important not to judge them. While some emotions may be uncomfortable, they are all important to your health and well-being.
What do you do with the emotion once you’ve labelled it? Seek to understand the message that it brings you.
For example, you feel inadequate at your new job. The message here may be a fear of failure. After recognising this fear of failure. Have compassion for yourself, you are new and it’s not expected that you can do the job perfectly. You can then start taking small steps to grow your confidence at work.
4. Journal or find a healthy emotional outlet.
If you are overwhelmed by your emotions, it helps to have a healthy emotional outlet. This may be journaling, dancing, going for a walk, or to the gym. Just remember to take time to come back to the emotion to understand its message after you have calmed down.
If you would like to talk to someone about challenging emotions such as anger, anxiety, or depression, we are here for you. Please contact Matt at Redlands Counselling Service on 1300 241 667 or email email@example.com for a friendly chat.