We all experience feelings and emotions, positive and negative. They are part of life.
Feelings are they way we live our emotions. We experience them internally and based on how we express them externally, people can understand what we are feeling.
Emotions are unconscious reactions. They are more than feelings. They include bodily reactions (your heart rate goes up), expressive movements (you say “wow” or wide open your eyes), and behaviours (you jump up and down because you are so excited about something).
But have you ever asked yourself why we have them?
Emotions tell us that we need to do something about our current situation/experience (fear flags dangerous situations). And they also help us build relationships with others (happiness triggers the need to socialise and share). We would not be able to go very far if we did not love and fear and trust. Bottom line is emotions and feelings help us get closer to our life goals.
So what would you think if I told you that you can choose how you want to feel?
There is an arm of psychology based on the idea that our thoughts are what cause our feelings and behaviours, not external stimuli like people, situations and events.
Put simply, our emotions are caused by how we interpret and perceive what happens to us. On top of that, managing our thoughts is easier than managing an existing feeling we may already have. This is why it is so important to know how our thoughts link to our feelings and emotions.
So, let me ask you a different question now: how do you want to feel today?
The next challenge is as follows:
- Before we start, we need to do a bit of prep work to understand how thought-behaviour-emotion relationship works for each of us. During the next couple of days spend some time answering the following questions:
- What specific thoughts trigger your most negative emotions?
- Which emotions do you find the hardest to accept?
- Which emotions do you find the easiest to accept?
- What behaviours do you tend to use to calm down the feelings?
- How well do these work in the short and long term? Do you want to use these behaviours?
- Identify your underlying beliefs about yourself, others, or life in general that tend to most strongly perpetuate the negative feelings. Beliefs usually start with “I am… ” or “People are…” or “The world/Life is…”
- And finally, identify the thoughts and beliefs that assist you most in generating positive feelings
- Choose three positive emotions (or more) you want to feel every day. There are as many emotions as there are colours. You can have a look at Plutchik’s wheel of emotions for inspiration. I choose joy, gratitude and love.
- Write them down in your journal, or anywhere easily accessible to you at the end of the day.
- Every day for the next three weeks keep track of which of these emotions you have felt. Spend some time journaling about it:
- What do you think that caused you to feel these emotions?
- Why did you react the way you did?
- If you did not feel an emotion from your list, ask yourself why not? What can you do tomorrow so you can feel like that?
- To help you remember, schedule reminders in your phone with these emotions. This will prompt to you to do something to feel like that.
My expectations from this challenge are:
- Gain more control over my emotions and feelings (obviously).
- Identify the situations that may trigger a positive/negative emotion. Do more of the positive ones and put in place actions to prevent/mitigate the negative ones so I can choose the direction I want.
- Be happier and more aware of myself.
Remember, you can choose your emotions and decide your path; otherwise someone or something else will do it for you.
Please share with me your experience and get in touch if you want me to send you my journal template for this challenge.
And… Don’t forget to keep smiling 🙂