I remember my days of binge-eating snacks and binge-watching Netflix.
I showed symptoms of depression, and I would lock myself up in my room so that nobody would bother me. I won’t care about my attendance in college.
I would do all this to avoid facing reality. Whenever I had a moment of stillness, I would overthink. And at that moment, I thought the best thing to do is sit and watch movies and eat something.
That didn’t last long.
I had to face my emotions. I had to get back to reality — only to realize I was the reason for my suffering, not my emotions.
When we don’t understand what emotions are, we start becoming afraid of them — denying them or avoiding them. In reality, emotions are our friends. They work for us, and they are not our masters.
Emotions are feedback notifications to our brain. If someone mocked you in public, you would feel embarrassed. That’s a sign to your brain that this social situation isn’t pleasant. That’s it. This is what emotions are for — to convey our messages.
It’s not humane to not have emotions — because that’s what I heard most of my clients wishing for before we start working together.
“I wish I did not have any emotions in the first place; at least they would not bother me so much.” Does this sound like someone you know?
After working with 200+ clients in 2020, I observed patterns and developed this 6-day Emotional Awareness program.
If you follow this 6-day plan, you will become remarkably more self-aware about your emotions.
Day 1: Note what triggers you
For day 1, make a list of 10 incidents and people that have triggered you to act emotionally.
Or even better, make a list of 5 people and incidents from the past, and a list of 5 people and incidents from recent times that have pushed you to respond emotionally.
Our triggers provide a great source of information. By recognizing what triggers us, we can work to resolve the deeper issues.
For example, if you get triggered every time someone doesn’t do things according to your plans, you may investigate your control issues.
Note — this is a really generalized and vague example, but I guess you got the point.
By recognizing what triggers us, we can work to resolve the deeper issues.
Day 2: Label your emotions
We often miscommunicate ourselves when we say, “I am angry,” “I am excited.” In reality, you are not your emotions — you feel your emotions.
It is more appropriate to say, “I feel angry” or “I feel excited.” The more you label your emotions, the more self-aware you become.
Instead of saying, “I don’t feel good,” it is better to label how exactly you are feeling.
Here’s a chart you can follow to recognize and acknowledge variations in all the emotions —
Day 3: Practice silence
On day one, you became aware of your emotional triggers. This is the time when you practice silence and stillness.
Most of our fights can get resolved if we learn how to stay silent when required. When we are impulsive, we say many things we don’t mean and respond in ways we don’t intend to.
The best way to develop the practice of staying silent despite your impulses is to start meditation. And let’s not make meditation a scary thing. If you have not been able to do meditation regularly so far, how about we start with a few minutes of breathing exercise?
Here’s how to do it — sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes, and gently focus on your breathing patterns. Observe how is your body moving every time you inhale and exhale. Don’t manipulate your breath. Let it find its own rhythm and observe it. You will have thoughts while doing this, and that’s okay. Gently bring your attention back to observing your breath. Do this for a few minutes.
Over a period of time, try increasing the time of this meditation session for up to 5 minutes.
You can also try meditation apps like Headspace, Insight Timer, and Mindhouse.
Most of our fights can get resolved if we learn how to stay silent when required.
Day 4: Notice your locus of control
Most of our emotional suffering comes when we try to control things outside our control.
Stoics believed in the dichotomy of control, i.e there are certain things we control and certain things we don’t control. As long as we continue focusing on things we don’t control — we will be unhappy.
This exercise’s starting point is to make a list of everything that we control and everything we don’t control.
For example, I control writing this piece, editing it well, and even promoting it on my social media. But I definitely don’t control how many views and engagement this post will get.
As long as we continue focusing on things we don’t control — we will be unhappy.
Day 5: Shift from fear to love
There are fundamentally two emotions only — love and fear. Everything else is a derivative of these two emotions. Joy, compassion, humor — these are the derivatives of love, anger, anxiety, and jealousy are fear-based emotions.
At any given moment, we can only have one kind of emotion, either love-based or fear-based. And at that moment, we have an option to choose and shift.
Gabrielle Bernstein has mentioned the 3-Step Choose Again method to make this shift in her book “Super Attractor.”
Step 1 is to be aware and accept everything as is. Become aware of your fear-based thoughts.
After becoming aware, you need to forgive yourself. Because if we don’t forgive ourselves for our past choices, we will fall into the pit of self-hatred. Forgiveness is freedom: for you and others.
The third step is to make the shift. Deliberately, you can choose to make decisions with love intending towards growth and prosperity.
Day 6: Your self-talk
The kind of words we use for ourselves design our reality.
If you repeat this to yourself every day, “I can’t become a vegan. I love meat too much.” Guess what, you would never be able to abstain from eating meat.
Your self-talk matters.
I personally use affirmations like, “I am a prolific writer, and words flow through me,” and it has tremendously helped me shift my identity from inside out.
What kind of words are you using to describe yourself? On the last day of this journey, keep track of your self-talk.
Before you begin this exercise
It might seem too simple when you’re only reading the words on your screen. It’s supposed to be ground-breaking eventually, but it will start with weird and imperfect beginnings. So, be prepared with that.
The progress will look insignificant and might frustrate you a bit too, when you are doing this kind of work for the first time. The important point is to persevere through the tough times.
If you’re serious about this, you could also take help from an expert.
P.S. This is one of the modules from my 10-week signature coaching program. For more information, drop me a message.