What emotions drive us? Are they good or bad? And how can we harness them to achieve our goals?
Our emotions impact our decision making and behaviors.
For example, anger and aggression can cause us to take risky actions and act impulsively, whereas calm and relaxed states encourage us to reason and choose safer options.
While emotions are often considered unfavorable, they play a critical role in motivating us to reach our goals.
The energy we get when feeling angry, upset, excited, happy, sad, stressed, anxious, etc., can be turned into inspiration and motivation to make better decisions and progress forward.
Recognizing Your Emotions
We’re all emotional beings. However, some people have more control over their emotions. These people know how to manage their feelings and stay calm under pressure. They can quickly identify their emotions and express them appropriately.
On the other hand, there are those whose emotions quickly get out of control while they don’t even realize what’s happening. That inability to recognize feelings and manage them appropriately can make us less effective at work and at home.
Improving your awareness or emotional intelligence starts with learning to recognize when you’re feeling an emotion.
This self-awareness takes practice, and one method may work better for you than others. Here are a few to try:
a) Pay attention to your body. Are you smiling or clenching your jaw? Are you clenching your fists? Are you raising your voice? Is your heart racing? Is your head pounding? Do you feel nauseous?
b) Write down your thoughts and feelings on paper without applying a “filter” or editing as you go. Then, read through them. If you notice expressions or emotions of sadness, anger, frustration, etc., then write down what may be causing you to feel this way.
c) Think about a time when you were upset. What was going on? How did you react? Were you able to think clearly? Did you act impulsively? What would you do differently if you had a do-over?
d) Ask others for feedback about your behaviors or outward signs of stress they’ve witnessed.
With experience, you’ll begin to recognize an emotion as it arises.
Once you understand what you’re feeling, you can then unwrap why you’re reacting the way you are. From there, you can take steps to effectively manage your behavior, given your situation.
This may include:
- Changing perspective. Sometimes we need to look at situations from another angle. For instance, if you’re frustrated, ask yourself whether you could approach the problem differently.
- Refocusing. When you focus on the issue, you’re likely to become overwhelmed and lose sight of the bigger picture. Instead, turn your attention elsewhere.
- Visualizing. Visualization allows you to see things in your mind’s eye. By imagining yourself doing something, you can increase your motivation and excitement.
- Brainstorming. Make a list of all the ways you can solve the problem. The more options you have, the easier it will be to find one that works best for you.
- Strategizing. Once you know how to deal with the problem, you can create a plan to implement those strategies.
- Forward momentum. Don’t get stuck in one place. Stay focused on your goal.
- Flexibility. Things change. As a result, you should always be willing to adjust your plans based on new information.
- Patience. Being patient means waiting until you feel ready to act. It doesn’t mean being passive; instead, it means giving yourself time to gather your thoughts and prepare yourself emotionally.
- Accepting responsibility. Remember that everyone has bad days and makes occasional mistakes. Sometimes no matter how hard you try, a problem won’t go away, but you don’t blame or punish yourself for mistakes.
- Recognition. Give yourself credit where credit is due. Acknowledge and celebrate when things go well.
- Reflecting. Learn from your failures. Rather than dwell on them, learn from them and use them to improve your future performance.
- Asking for help. Some people have been through similar experiences and may have learned valuable lessons that can help you.
- Avoiding comparisons. Comparing yourself to someone else is unfair. You’ll never reach their level of success. Instead, focus on what you can control.
- Gratitude. Look beyond the problem. Reflect on the good in your life. This will give you the strength and courage to face challenges head-on.
- Thinking positively. Positive thinking is an effective tool for overcoming obstacles. If you think positive thoughts, you’ll begin to believe that you can succeed.
- Not overthinking. Instead, take action. Worrying only creates negative feelings. Remember progress over perfection.
- Trusting your instincts. If you sense that you’re getting off track, stop and reassess your plan.
Better Mental Health Helps
When we’re emotionally healthy, we tend to be happier and healthier. We’re also more productive, creative, resilient, focused, motivated, and balanced.
The following tips can help you improve your emotional wellness:
- Take breaks. You can become too tired to complete tasks effectively when you work long hours. Taking short breaks throughout the day helps keep you alert and energized.
- Exercise regularly. Regular exercise improves physical health and reduces stress.
- Get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation causes fatigue and impairs decision making. Get your zzz’s.
- Eat healthy foods and drink H2O. Eating well-balanced meals keeps your body strong and provides the fuel it needs to function optimally, and water helps flush toxins out of your system.
- Cut back on alcohol consumption. Alcohol affects judgment, slows reaction times, and interferes with our emotions and mental health. Break the cycle.
- Find ways to relax. Meditation, yoga, massage therapy, music, aromatherapy, and other relaxation techniques can help reduce stress.
- Do something fun. Fun activities can boost your mood and energy levels.
The Power Of Emotional Awareness
Harnessing your emotions can be a powerful way to boost your performance and achieve success.
Understanding what triggers your emotions and learning to recognize and manage them is key. Doing so will give you greater insight into why you react or perform at certain times and under specific circumstances.
In addition, by becoming more aware and in control of your emotional responses, you’ll be able to better understand and deal with work and life situations positively and move closer to reaching your goals.