Working With Emotions: Basics for a Psychological Stability 

Psychologists often pester clients with questions about emotions. Hearing a question like “What emotion do you feel when you talk about this?” or “How are you feeling right now?” makes many people think hard. And if you answer something like “bad,” “normal,” “nothing,” the therapist will still try to clarify, “Normal or bad is what? Try to name the emotion after all.”

Psychologists don’t do this out of malice. The point is that being able to call an emotion by its name is an extremely useful skill.

Saying the emotion helps:

  • Get through them faster.
  • Reduce their intensity.
  • React more consciously to what’s going on.
  • Reduce the level of stress.
  • Slow down, to develop the ability to be in the moment.

Why is it so hard to answer questions about how we feel, and how do we learn to do it?

Why Can Naming Our Emotions Be Difficult?

Some of them are stigmatized: they are considered “bad,” “undesirable.” It isn’t socially acceptable to be angry, to be disgusted, to be anxious – so we try not to notice that we are able to feel these things.

Many people are afraid of encountering unpleasant feelings: it seems that even observing such emotions will intensify them. Although research proves that this is not the case – and even the opposite. Contact with an emotion, attention to it, reduces its intensity.

What Doesn’t Apply to Emotions?

  • Metaphors (“as if poured with cold water,” “as if a mountain has fallen from your shoulders”).
  • Adjectives like “good”/”bad” (they seem informative, but really say little about the state).
  • Descriptions of motives and actions (“I wanted to hit him”; “I thought that gambling via National Casino no Brasil would become a great experience…”).

How to Understand Your Emotions

Give them a name. To do this, you need to know what feelings and emotions are in general. There are many different nameplates of emotions and feelings on the internet, and we made our own. Feeling is a more global concept, it lasts longer than an emotion and can hide a lot of the latter. At the same time, emotions can accompany certain feelings or signal them.

Use metaphors. By themselves, as we’ve written, they don’t relate to feelings, but they can be a way to get to know them. Run through the tablet. What do you feel when you read the name of the emotion? What does it look like? For example: “When I think of shame, it’s like I shrink into a lump and want to disappear.” The next time you feel like you’re shrinking into a lump and want to disappear, say, “I’m ashamed right now.”

Lean on your body. When you feel the rush of feeling, try to notice what sensations accompany it on a bodily level. Do you feel cold in your stomach? Do you start to shake your leg? Does your voice become quieter? Try to associate your body reactions with the emotions in the chart. Over time, you’ll be able to quickly trace the connection, “Aha, I’m biting my lip again, apparently I’m anxious.”

Exercises for Recognizing Emotions

“Mirror”

  1. Stand in front of the mirror, relax. Start acting out different emotions.
  2. Joy: relax your facial muscles and smile broadly while thinking of something pleasant.
  3. Surprise: relax your facial muscles, open your eyes wide, and think with surprise: “What is this for?” – quietly close your eyes.
  4. Anger: relax your facial muscles and squint, while tensing your nose and thinking, “I’m so sick of all this!”
  5. Happiness: relax your facial muscles, pull your lips into a tube, then stretch them out into a smile.

Repeat the exercise every day for at least a week, and then try to portray the emotion with your eyes alone: kind, angry, loving, envious eyes. It’s important to think of the appropriate emotion in that moment.

“Find and Remember”

  1. During the day, find ten reasons to be happy, rejoice from the heart and trace how your state has changed in that moment. If possible, look in the mirror, feel and try to remember the sensations in the body.
  2. The next day, find ten reasons to be amazed, and trace how your condition changes.
  3. Following the same pattern, work out all the emotions that increase the effectiveness of human activity: acceptance, trust, interest, admiration.

“Irritants”

Try for a few days to specifically fix your attention on unexpected stimuli: loud sounds or bright lights. Try to formulate what happens to your emotional sphere when exposed to such stimuli.