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💡 What are good emotions?

A sudden wave of emotion can feel like an uncomfortable inconvenience, a detour from our day or complete overwhelm. How do we keep moving through it?

In this modern world we’re expected to be both reachable and rational at all times. So a sudden wave of emotion can feel like an uncomfortable inconvenience, a detour from our day or complete overwhelm. Yet we can’t just shut down at that moment. How do we keep moving through it?

Researchers like Dr. Susan David have made it their mission to remind us of the vital role that all emotions play – not just the pleasant, ‘positive’ ones – in helping us to lead meaningful, authentic lives.

David explains that emotions, from blinding rage to wide-eyed love, are your body’s immediate physical responses to important signals from the outside world.

When your senses pick up information—signs of danger, hints of romantic interest, cues that you’re being accepted or excluded by others—your body physically adjusts to these incoming messages.  

You may recognise these signs….. your heart beats faster or slower, your muscles tighten or relax, your mental focus locks onto the threat or eases into the warmth of trusted companionship.

These physical “embodied” responses keep your inner state and your outward behaviour attuned to the situation at hand and can help you not only survive but also thrive. But David notes that, unfortunately, your emotions are not always reliable.

Can we trust all emotions?

In some situations, emotions help you cut through pretenses and posturing, working as a kind of internal radar to give you the most accurate and insightful read into what’s really going on.

In other situations, your emotions dredge up old stories, confusing your perception of what’s happening in the moment with painful past experiences. This can result in powerful sensations that can take over your body completely, clouding your judgment and steering you into unhelpful responses.

The addtion of stress in these moments makes it even harder for our bodies to understand and process these emotions.

Most of the time, many of us operate on emotional autopilot, reacting to situations without true awareness or understanding of how our emotions drive our behaviours. 

Priding ourselves on being rational beings, we overlook the very real impact our emotions have on our moment-to-moment responses. 

Becoming more aware of our emotions, making peace with all of our feelings, and learning to use the data they provide to mindfully shape our actions, every emotion we experience has the potential to support our learning, growth, connection to others and wellbeing.

How can we increase our emotional agility?

Studies suggest that emotions themselves are neither positive nor negative; good or bad. They are data.

When you regard your emotions as ‘data’ rather than directives, you discover the potential in all your experiences: even your most difficult emotions offer signposts to the things that you value most.

For example, sadness can indicate a search for how you can do better in this world; social anxiety can prompt you to want to connect better with those around you and boredom at work is a sign you’re ready to grow or be challenged.  When you act in ways that connect you to these values you experience a greater sense of authentic happiness and connection in your life. The truth is that every emotion serves a purpose to move your body into action – the trick is learning to tune in to what your body is telling you. 

Try the three step process by:

  • Naming it – Put language to your feelings. Try to label your emotions as accurately as possible and create some distance between you and the feeling. So instead of saying “I am sad,” say “I'm noticing that I'm feeling sad.” 

  • Normalizing it – Instead of labelling them as ‘positive’ or negative’, accept that both comfortable and uncomfortable emotions are a normal part of life. Be open to experiencing the full range of your emotions without judgment. 

  • Navigating it – Use your emotions as data without letting them call the shots. Rather than treating them as directives, see them as signposts to move you towards the things you value most.

So the next time you start to notice a feeling emerge, rather than brushing it off or burying it down, see it for the helpful data that it is. Indie helps by providing you tips when you need them to help you reduce stress and process your emotions.

Try this three-step process for yourself this week with Indie, to help you navigate the emotional landscape.

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