What are Your Emotions Telling You?

Posted on by Coaching-admin
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A cancer diagnosis and all that follows it causes intense and sometimes bewildering emotions. This can leave us feeling at the mercy of our emotions. Further, we can be tempted to bury them, deny they are there or take our emotions out on others. Here are several insights for managing tough emotional upheavals:

  1. Notice – It sounds simple, but many of us have been taught not to notice our emotions. They are so often seen as distractions from what is more important: doing something, making something or solving a problem. But there’s more to you than your logical thinking. Simply pausing to take note of an emerging emotion allows you to honor a significant aspect of being human. The awareness we build around noticing our emotions allows us time to make choices about them. The one step of saying something like: “Oh, look at that, I’m feeling sad,” only takes a second, but it allows a pause between the emotion and what comes next.
  2. Experience – Take some time to either postpone working through the emotion or allowing the emotion to be experienced when it occurs. The experience step could sound like:
    • Wait. I’m not in a place where I can respond to this emotion. I’ll revisit this in one hour.
    • OK, this upheaval of frustration just flooded me, what’s going on here?
    • I see this anger streaking across my internal horizon like a rocket. I’m going to step out of the room and consider how to manage this emotion.
  3. Consider – Consider the emotion respectfully. We can learn to treat emotion as an intelligence rather than an unwanted distraction. Emotions are part of millions of years of evolution and have played a major role in our relationships and our survival. The emotional system of our body developed before our cognitive system in evolutionary history. So, it’s older and sometimes wiser than our cognition. It’s also quicker and triggers a response in us faster than our cognition.
    • Good questions to ask yourself:
      • What is this emotion telling me?
      • From what or to what is it leading me?
      • Where in my body is this emotion coming from and how does that inform me about my situation?
  4. Combine – Now it’s time to take the information about your emotion and combine it with your cognitive intelligence. Sort through the interplay between how your emotions are informing you and what your thinking-brain (your cognitive, problem solving brain) has to say about it. From there you can make better informed decisions. But something else is also happening to you at the same time. Instead of brushing your emotions aside, you are acknowledging that your emotions are real and respected. This often has a way of calming emotional storms and right-sizing emotional reactions.
  5. Practice – Most people can’t do this easily right away. Those who can also know that with practice they can do it much better. We have to unlearn the habit of dismissing our emotions or simply reacting to them. Disrupting an old pattern won’t be easy. View this as something that improves over time instead of a quick fix. In the meantime, you get to watch yourself becoming more able to navigate the sometimes-rough waters of your emotional journey. I can attest this does take time and it is worth it!
  6. Get Support – There are many ways to get support for learning from our emotions; like friends, a therapist and your own self-discipline. Another way is to hire a certified coach. As a Certified Cancer Journey Coach, an ICF certified coach and a trainer for Emotional Intelligence I love to work with those who are eager to improve their emotional lives.
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