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Learn To Question Your Emotions

Learn To Question Your Emotions

As 100% accurate and descriptive mood rings haven’t been created yet, it’s sometimes quite difficult to decipher one emotion from another. Are you feeling angry or envious? Anxious or excited? Here Steven Handel explains how you can learn to understand your feelings by questioning them:

One of the first pillars of emotional intelligence is self-awareness. This is the process of better understanding your feelings through self-observation and self-inquiry. It requires that we look at our emotions from an objective viewpoint, and then be honest about what’s causing them and how they are influencing our actions. Emotions guide human behavior. They are a type of knowledge, but they are often fast, intuitive, and impulsive reactions to our environment, and thus they can be prone to error. Due to this, your feelings can be misleading if you always react to them without question. In certain times, it’s a good idea to step back and question your feelings before you choose the best way to respond to them.

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In a 2013 study published in the Motivation and Emotion, it was found that a bad mood (caused by listening to angry music) led individuals to more likely judge someone as wrong. This is a perfect example of the pervasive influence of emotions and why we should question our feelings. You might be in a bad mood for some random reason – maybe you got stuck in traffic or spilled coffee on your shirt – but then that mood will negatively influence your impression of someone. Rationally, you know the two things have nothing to do with each other, but your brain still unconsciously makes the connection between your current feelings and the other person.

When you gain a better understanding of your feelings and where they come from, you avoid making this mistake so easily.

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Here’s a guideline on how you to question your feelings. Ask yourself:

  • What am I feeling?
    Don’t just say you feel “good” or “bad” – be specific. Is it “sadness” or “anger” or “disappointment?” Try your best to find one or two words that best describe your feeling.
  • When did I first notice this feeling?
    How long has the feeling been going on for? Did you just begin feeling it, or has it been looming around for a while?
  • What’s the primary cause of this feeling?
    Try to think of what event in your life caused you to feel this way. Is there something that happened that stands out?
  • What are possible secondary causes of this feeling?
    What are some other factors that may be contributing to this emotion? Are there multiple “little things” that may have built up throughout the day?
  • Am I tired or stressed?
    Often times general stress and fatigue can amplify our emotions. For example, this 2013 study found that sleepless nights are more likely to lead to anger and arguments among couples.
  • How should I respond to this feeling?
    What’s the best course of action to take in response to this emotion? Should you talk to someone, listen to music, go for a walk, or do something productive?
  • Should I just wait for this feeling to pass?
    Just because you feel something doesn’t mean you need to act on it. Sometimes it’s better to just “ride out” an emotion until it subsides. Our feelings are only temporary, they don’t last forever.

Individuals with more connections between the “thinking” and “feeling” parts of their brain often have more emotional intelligence. This is because our ability to think about our feelings helps create a buffer between our emotions and responses, so that we don’t just act impulsively all of the time. Just the simple act of thinking and questioning our feelings helps detach ourselves from the “heat of the moment.” The more you question your feelings, the more you can control them rather than let them control you.

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Steven Handel is a long-time writer in psychology and self-improvement. He blogs frequently at The Emotion Machine and is also the author of the digital guide The Science of Self Improvement. He encourages you to follow him on Facebook and Twitter, where he is always sharing new advice, tools, and exercises to help improve your mind.

Question Your Feelings | The Emotion Machine

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Siobhan Harmer

Siobhan is a passionate writer sharing about motivation and happiness tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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