In this week’s post, let’s focus on what happens after the emotional impact. That is, what you are thinking and feeling after an emotional experience. The emotional aftermath is usually lost on what happened to cause the aftermath. So think about what happens to you after your parent/boss expresses disappointment in your performance, or when your spouse/family member praises you, or when your favorite TV show is cancelled?
There is no right or wrong answer to any or all of these questions. They may seem rhetorical but it’s worth asking yourself, “How do I feel?” after a situation. It doesn’t have to be a traumatic or highly emotional experience, it can be any experience. Sometimes I encourage patients to emotionally “check-in” with themselves at random times during the day. Why do this?
Good question, well for a few reasons:
1) You will actually learn about your emotional world.
What impacts you, how, and for how long.
2) Recognizing and identifying your emotions will help in
understanding and empathizing with others’ emotions.
It’s difficult to empathize or even emotionally connect
with others if your own emotional world is unclear.
3) Introspective questions (e.g., How do I feel?) increase self-awareness and help you gain personal insight. This comes in very handy, especially in relationships.
4) Sometimes asking yourself a simple question like
“How do I feel?” or “What just happened?” can slow
things enough to calm yourself and keep your
composure in a stressful situation. Think of how
many times you've reacted in a situation and then
reflected and wished you had a moment to think
before doing or saying what you did.
Gaining insight and awareness into how experiences influence your emotions will allow you to better prepare for similar situations that arise in the future. For example, if you get defensive or flustered during stressful situations, you can practice relaxation techniques when you are entering a stressful period of your life. Increasing self-awareness will allow for you to manage your feelings in a healthy, pro-social manner. So if you are aware that you are feeling defensive or flustered, then you could utilize a strategy that helps you return to a more relaxed, calm state.
How an experience affects you is as important as the experience itself. Everyone is busy, but I encourage you to take time during the day and reflect on the high, low, and average experiences of your day. Tap in to your emotional world; you’ll be glad you did.
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