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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 our emotional selves as we are with our physical selves.
But it's not as easy because they're not as obvious. Emotions can arise mysteriously and be misleading, often going against our better judgment. We 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 three 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 have them work in your favor, here are three effective ways to process and respond to your emotions:
1. Notice and 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 observing yourself processing the emotion. This habit is key for creating a break in "acting on your feelings," realizing that you're not bound to your thoughts.
When this strategy was applied by people suffering from spider phobia, researchers found that they had lower physiological reactivity to the spiders. It's like hitting the release button on a pressure valve.
2. Reframe and 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 see every emotion as your helpful little messenger, trying to steer you into the best possible scenario. We often avoid and shut out negative emotions, missing their value. Getting frustrated becomes a teacher for patience; being anxious encourages you to be more courageous. Sadness over rejection becomes excitement about a redirection.
Rather than get upset, a common and effective strategy is to see someone who's angry with you as just 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 and Stand Tall
Tony Robbin's popular teaching and phrase "motion begets emotion" highlights the the ability to manipulate your emotions through changing your physical state. A forced smile or laugh will still causes the brain to release endorphins; power poses are now mainstream knowledge; yoga practitioners recognize that breathing and the body are the most immediate catalysts for inner change.
When negative emotions arise and you're struggling to push through them. Change your physiology--close your eyes and take a a few deep breaths, take a power pose, smile, do ten push-ups, go for a walk or go to the gym.
Changing your body will always override your emotions.
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