If emotional nakedness got as much attention as physical nakedness, we’d be much happier.
Of course, it’s not about baring your soul and putting your emotions behind a loudspeaker, it’s about being in-tune with your emotions — being as familiar and aware of your emotional self as you are with your physical self.
But it’s not as easy because they’re not as obvious. Emotions can arise mysteriously and be misleading, often going against your better judgment. You get angry over what’s fickle, upset with what’s spoken in jest, and fall in love with the wrong people.
Happiness comes in being congruent with your emotions, to be aligned with them. Oscar Wilde said, “I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, and to enjoy them.”
Emotions can be broken down into 3 major components:
- Subjective: your perception, awareness, and experience of the emotion.
- Physiological: how your body reacts to the emotion.
- Expressive: your actions and behavioral response to the emotion.
In order to master your emotions and these three components, here are 3 effective strategies:
1. Notice & Label
Self-awareness is the beginning of change. Label your emotions as they arise. Say what you’re feeling out loud. Do it without any judgement. Imagine stepping outside yourself and watching yourself process the emotion. This is key for creating a break in “acting on your feelings;” realizing that your actions are not at the mercy of what you’re feeling.
When this strategy was applied by people with spider phobia, researchers found that they had lower physiological reactivity. It’s like hitting the release button on a pressure valve.
2. Reframe & Replace
As you label and become more aware, start reframing your emotions and your situation to ensure they’re working to your advantage.
Begin to ‘listen’ and see every emotion as your helpful little messenger, steering you to the best possible scenario. Rather than avoid and shut out negative emotions, reframing turns frustration into a teacher for patience; anxiety becomes preparation and a precursor for courage; sadness and rejection becomes excitement about a redirection.
Another effective strategy is to see someone who’s angry with you as having a bad day. Reframing techniques are ancient, Marcus Aurelius said, “If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”
3. Breath & Stand Tall
Tony Robbin’s popular teaching and phrase “motion begets emotion” highlights your ability to manipulate your emotions through changing your physical state. A forced smile or laugh will still cause the brain to release endorphins; power poses are now common practices; yoga practitioners teach breathing techniques and physical postures for inner change.
When negative emotions arise and you’re struggling to push through them. Change your physiology — close your eyes and take in a few deep breaths; take a power pose; smile; do ten push-ups; or go for a walk.
Changing your body will help to readjust your emotions.