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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 March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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