Learn new Emotional Awareness tools by watching the video, reading the corresponding lesson article, and doing the exercise.
Then, plan when you'll do lesson 3!
The Dangers of Your Emotional Blindspots
Learning the 4 main Emotions and How to View them Equally
Emotional awareness is so much more than “reading the room” or understanding how someone else feels; a big part of emotional intelligence or emotional awareness is being able to manage your own emotions.
Emotions can seem messy, tricky, and hard to understand, so where do you start if you want to manage your emotions like a pro?
First, it helps to recognize that any emotion can be simplified into 1 of 4 main emotions. This is the first step to using an emotion as information to help you grow.
Begin by recognizing these 4 main emotions:
These four emotions don't get treated equally by society, and because of that, they may not have been equally honored or “allowed” in our households.
Growing up, we might have gotten the message, “happiness is good, but when I’m angry I get in trouble” or “When I show my sadness I get made fun of, so I better be sad by myself” or even, “When I’m happy I’m too loud and annoying to my parents- it’s better to tune myself down when I’m happy and act more subdued.”
This leads the individual to express certain emotions, and suppress others.
But there is a downside to avoiding ANY emotion (yes, even anger).
Emotions provide information about what is happening in our lives and how we are processing events and situations. They can help us to understand our own needs and desires, and can also help us to connect with others.
Suppressing or denying emotions can have negative consequences on our mental and physical health. For example, bottling up feelings of anger or sadness can lead to increased stress and potentially even physical illness. On the other hand, acknowledging and expressing our emotions in a healthy way can help us to cope with difficult situations, improve our relationships with others, but mostly allows a deeper connection with ourselves, our inner-child, and our hearts.
ALL emotions are meant to be felt when they arise- not pushed aside, blocked, or judged.
Boil Secondary Emotions Down to the Primary
Everyone has certain emotions that they under-do, and overdo to compensate. And it’s common to disguise certain emotions as something else:
You might be thinking, “well I don’t feel fear very often, but I do like to be prepared and think ahead, because it’s important to know what potential threats are out there!”
Well- that is FEAR.
Do you tend to avoid or deny that you feel fear? Why?
You may not think of yourself as a “sad person”, but you’ve often been called a “complainer” or have been caught comparing yourself to others - this is a hint that your underlying emotions in those moments is sadness.
Do you feel uncomfortable feeling sadness? How does other people’s sadness make you feel?
Anytime someone gets angry it makes you very uncomfortable, like you want to hide. In fact, you rarely get angry and when you recall the times in your life you have been very angry, you can only think of a handful of times, or none. “Anger” to you might be keeping it inside and resenting a person instead of expressing the emotion.
What about anger feels wrong or scary to you?
Did you know someone from your past who had an unhealthy way of expressing anger?
Sometimes these more “negative” emotions are hard to spot, especially if they are shadow-aspects of our personalities. We may justify “preparedness” and feel resistant to calling it Fear.
We may say we feel “melancholic” or “lonely” without realizing our relationship to Sadness.
“I’m not angry, I’m just irritated!” - Is really a form of anger.
So when it comes to understanding your emotions, think of how ALL emotions can be boiled down to these 4 main emotions: Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Happiness. Begin to recognize which emotions you are much more comfortable in, and the one(s) you’re not.
Emotional Awareness Activity:
Is there an emotion that you might tend to feel more than the others? If you look at the list of the 4 main emotions, which one feels most familiar to you? And which one feels foreign, “bad”, dangerous, or scary to you in terms of feeling that way?
These questions take a high level of self-awareness, so take your time answering. Really think about your life, how others might see you, and answer honestly: What emotion do I tend to sit in more? Which emotion feels most foreign or inaccessible to me?
This type of self-inquiry is the beginning of shadow-work. When we see how we’ve displayed only the “good” or “better” aspects of ourselves, we also learn how we’ve disconnected from the other parts which may have been disapproved of in childhood, and severed us from our True Self.
Be truthful in your assessment of which emotion is least accessible to you, and which you tend to sit in more often.
Reflect or Journal:
What emotions did I observe my parents (or primary caregiver(s)) expressing most in childhood?
What were some spoken or unspoken messages in my household about expressing my:
Whose love did I crave more in childhood- my mother, or my father?
Who did I “need to be” for that parent in order to feel seen, loved, heard?
Things to keep in mind:
All emotions are valid because they are simply information.
Having an emotion does not mean you have to take an action- simply feeling it, and allowing it, is a healthy way to think of emotions.
All emotions are a natural and normal part of the human experience.
The deeper we feel our emotions, the deeper we can heal.
*SKIP the part below if you're ready to move onto the next lesson!
If you're interested in learning more about blindspots and shadow, then finding out your Enneagram Subtype might be of interest. Reach out to me if this interests you, or watch the video below for a bit more info on that.