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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 November 11, 2019

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

4. Feed Your Brain

Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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6. Write it Down

If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

7. Listen to Music

Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

8. Visual Concepts

In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

9. Teach Someone Else

Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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