5 Mindful Steps To Emotional Awareness
Emotions are a direct connection to our experience of the present moment. Emotional awareness adds a vast array of value to your life. Being aware of how you feel and why you feel that way offers a rich experience of the totality of being alive. Understanding and accepting the inner workings of your mind, heart, and spirit requires an ability to feel and understand the depth and breadth of your emotions: all of your emotions. Unfortunately, avoidance is one of the primary ways many of us cope with our uncomfortable emotions. As human beings, we tend to seek states of comfort and avoid states of discomfort.
This is where a mindful approach to understanding and accepting your emotions provides tremendous value. Working through the five steps of emotional awareness allows you to experience your emotions and grow in your awareness and well-being. As you become more comfortable with understanding the valuable messages your emotions offer you, your inner world can be understood, accepted, and cared for far more deeply.
When you embark on this process of mindful awareness of your emotions, you will no longer escape your emotions. You will end any avoidance behaviors that cause you to numb or “stuff” your emotions deep down. Emotional avoidance behaviors only offer temporary relief from the discomfort of any uncomfortable emotions.
Emotional avoidance sets yourself up for more and more discomfort internally. You see, the emotions don’t just go away. When you continually avoid your emotions, you find yourself in a cycle of avoidance that ultimately causes harm to your mind, body, and relationships. As you begin to practice the five mindful steps to emotional awareness, you will begin to break any harmful cycles. Practicing these steps allows you to begin to experience and value all of your emotions.
Mindfulness is paying attention from moment to moment with nonjudgmental awareness, meaning you are able to be present with whatever arises at the moment without judging your experience, or your emotions. Here are the five mindful steps to emotional awareness and acceptance.
1) Mindful moment
Give yourself a mindful, quiet moment each day to begin to connect with what is true right here and right now. Offer yourself a moment of quiet reflection where you can just be. Begin with one minute a day. When you practice, set a timer and become an observer of the present moment. Your mind may try to escape or resist being present. Your mind will most likely search for distractions, especially if the present moment is experienced as uncomfortable. However, with practice, this process becomes more and more comfortable and will lead to acceptance and peace.
2) Recognize and name your emotion
Once you have practiced a daily mindful moment and simply observing the present moment, allow yourself to begin to notice an emotion as it arises. Notice how this specific emotion impacts your thoughts. Try to remain in the space of observing the emotion and your thoughts without getting caught into the stories your mind creates about the emotion.
Now name your emotion, try not to judge it. Allow yourself to understand your emotion and to connect with it. With this awareness, notice what is present without getting on the roller coaster of your thoughts and feelings. Notice the impact of this specific emotion on your physical body. This experience may be comfortable (happiness may present itself with a feeling of warmth internally) or may be experienced as uncomfortable (anxiety may present itself with an increased heartbeat, muscular tension, and shallow breathing).
Notice your tendency to attempt to avoid any emotions that you experience as uncomfortable. Notice your tendency to attempt to grasp onto or cling to any emotions you consider to be comfortable. Allow yourself to remain present with the emotion, not matter what it is.
3) Observe your emotion with a nonjudgmental awareness
Practice simply noticing and observing your emotion as if you are a distant witness to it. You are observing your emotions and working to release any judgment of your response to it. Judgments such as happy: good and anxiety: bad, are not useful in the process of witnessing and accepting emotions. Every single emotion has value and purpose.
Continue to observe your emotion and sit with it from your witness and silent observer perspective. Remain within the witness perspective for about one to five minutes. Set a timer, notice when your mind may attempt to avoid and distract you away from your emotions. Try not to judge your experience. Know that this process is challenging and takes time, effort, determination, and focus.
4) Determine the information your emotion has to offer you
From the witness perspective, you can begin to discover the information your emotion is here to provide to you. When you understand why this specific emotion has arrived, you gain useful wisdom regarding your internal experience. Allowing yourself to know why you are experiencing this emotion creates an opportunity to choose how to respond.
Emotions are information about our experience in the present moment. For example, if you are happy, why? If you are anxious, why? The answer to the why is extremely valuable information about your response to the experiences in your life. If you are anxious because you are worrying about something you cannot control, that is not useful. If you are worrying about something you may be able to control, how might you cope in more effective way?
When you understand what the emotion is communicating to you, you become more self-aware. This creates the freedom to be more comfortable with your emotions, knowing that every emotion provides value. This opens you up to the depths of your being, with your true self.
5) Let it go
The final mindful step to emotional awareness is to release your emotion, to let it go. There is often fear of feeling emotions, fear that it will bring you down, will take over, or will be unbearable. However, emotional awareness brings just the opposite!
When you understand why your emotion is there is in the first place, you can make a choice on how to respond. You can choose to release them, to let them go. As you practice this release, you will feel more grounded and empowered. As you understand, manage and cope with your emotions, you will become more comfortable feeling them, and if you choose, to let them go and move forward.
Begin integrating these five mindful steps to emotional awareness into your daily routine and notice the impact. When you allow yourself the freedom to experience your emotions, you no longer attempt to numb and escape them. Through practicing these five mindful steps to emotional awareness you can create an opportunity to deepen your self-awareness and find inner peace and contentment.
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