An intrinsic part of being human, emotions have the power to influence our thoughts and behaviours on the spin of a coin. So imagine being able to understand what our emotions are telling us, enabling us to act on them more consciously and with intention.
In this article, I’ll explore some of the myths behind our emotions to help you harness them for positive change.
Feelings and emotions
A fundamental difference between feelings and emotions is that feelings are experienced consciously, as a result of an underlying, often subconscious emotion. A widely accepted theory of basic emotions, developed by Paul Ekman, suggests we have six basic emotions – sadness, happiness, fear, anger, surprise and disgust.
For example, sadness is an emotional state that might be characterised by feelings of disappointment or grief. Anger might be characterised by feelings of frustration or hostility.
A great way to start understanding what’s behind your bigger emotions is to use the Feelings Wheel (which you can download below). Identify your overarching emotion and then use the wheel to get to the heart of where that emotion is actually coming from.
- We are not our emotions
We can learn to detach our emotions from our identity. Feeling angry because of a certain situation doesn’t make you an angry person. Allowing an emotion to define us can be limiting but allowing that emotion in can help us understand how to process it and move beyond it.
2. Emotions are neither good nor bad
If we see emotions as either good or bad, we can limit our options and allow our emotions to influence our decisions. Think about an emotion that you label as ‘bad’. You may keep things bottled up to avoid the emotion or you’ll try and avoid that emotion so won’t be able to move past it. On the flip side, labelling an emotion as ‘good’ may mean you keep seeking it out which can lead to impatience and frustration.
3. We can choose our emotions
Once you can identify your emotions, you can start to choose your emotional response to certain situations. With that choice comes freedom. And with that freedom comes confidence, resilience and empowerment to explore new or alternative options.
Truly understanding our emotions is a lifelong pursuit, but exploring these three basic concepts will inevitably start to shift your mindset hopefully leading you down the path of ultimate emotional freedom.
Ayesha Murray is an experienced EMCC accredited coach currently adding another string to her bow by undertaking Emotions Coaching Practitioner training with In Good Company. She has a successful podcast, The Parent Equation and has chaired a panel discussion at the House of Commons on Parental Support reform. Find out more about Ayesha – https://www.careeringintomotherhood.com/coach/ayesha-murray/
July 30, 2023