Identifying Your Emotional States

If you were drunk or addicted to something or mentally aberrational, could you
recognize that your behavior was different? Do you know what makes you cry or
what makes you angry? Unless emotions are intensely experienced, many people
find difficulty in describing or relating to their feelings. They sometimes even deny
experiencing the emotions of love, fear, anger or pleasure, because of the lack of
conscious awareness of such emotions. People may even feign love or pleasure to
cover up unhappiness and low self-esteem. Some obese people are unable to tell the
difference between being fearful, angry or hungry, and so they lump all those
feelings together as hunger. Then they feel better about themselves by eating. The
hunger for food and sex also gets confused in some people, whereby food is then
used to gratify sexual frustrations. Sexually promiscuous people sometimes cannot
distinguish between lust, compassion, sorrow, gratitude, kindness -- and love!
When you practice identifying your emotional states as they happen in your life, you
learn how better to manage them. You also learn how to honestly know yourself
better as well.
As an exercise with a partner, begin by identifying how you feel sitting in front of
him (her). Are you excited, perplexed, pleased, enthusiastic, curious, embarrassed,
confident, bored, elated, sad, happy, frightened, confused, aroused or what? Probe
yourself, be honest and identify your emotions to your partner. Since your emotions
are often only temporarily acknowledged, you may only have momentary glimpses of
feelings as they pass through your mind. Consciously observe, tune into and identify
your emotions as they pass, and relate them to your partner. Afterwards, reverse the
roles, and let your partner do the same with you. By consciously identifying your
emotional states, you begin using more of your upper brain regions involving
mindful behavior.
As another exercise, bring your conscious attention to a primary emotion you have
been experiencing recently in your life, and identify this feeling to your partner.
Where in your body do you feel it? Is there any discomfort or any pleasantness in
your abdomen or chest area? Tune into any subtle changes that are happening in your
mind or body. What other emotions do you find connected to it? Identify all of these
to your partner. Then reverse the roles, and let your partner do the same with you.
By identifying your emotions honestly to your partner, a close friendliness often
develops that ordinarily would not be experienced with superficial conversation. If
you practice identifying your emotions to yourself and others often, there will be much more emotional clarity and integrity in your life, and your friendships will be
based on genuine feelings rather than false pretenses. Not surprisingly, a self-healing
process often results due to this more complete usage of the brain.
After you get good at consciously identifying your various emotional states, you
can practice using those emotions that make you feel good about yourself over those
that are self-destructive before beginning a considered action. You can even visualize
doing an action first, and study how you feel before you actually do it. Experiencing
better emotions can improve your learning potential, your intelligence, your job
performance, your interpersonal relationships as well as your physical health. By
clarifying and identifying the emotional experiences that really make you feel good
inside, you can better determine what you really want or desire as important in your
life. The next time you experience a particular exceptional feeling, take the time to be
mindful of it so you can remember it better and reproduce the feeling later when you
want. Explore how your inner self is reacting to it. After a conversation or after
reading a novel or after seeing a movie, get into and identify mindfully whatever
emotions you feel. By doing this frequently, you'll be able to reexperience favorable
emotional states more easily in the future while avoiding unfavorable ones.
Many thought processes and the emotions connected to them are often uncon-
sciously replayed over and over throughout the day and even throughout the night,
and are directly responsible for your daily moods and behavior. You can change this
unconscious inner movie with a consciously directed movie of your own.
As an exercise, create right now a positive movie of your past experiences
involving courage, confidence, happiness, unconditional love, compassion, forgive-
ness, appreciation and enthusiasm to play over in your mind. (If you have trouble
remembering such experiences, create instead a fantasy movie of where you would
like to be or how you would like to be treated by some special fantasy person.)
Briefly jot down the main points of those experiences in a notebook if necessary.
Recognize and tune into the good feelings you are experiencing so that you can
recreate those feelings whenever you need them in the future. Later, you should
immediately use this inner movie to switch from any negative state, like guilt,
depression, sadness, fear, anger, lust, worry, etc. You can also replay this movie
just before retiring at night, and again just upon arising in the morning to positively
jump start your day. By getting into past positive, emotional experiences and reliving
them often, you can enhance the expression of those emotions in the present moment.
Remember, you have the power to choose your state of mind to anything you wish.