Look at the array of emotions in the diagram above. Try to locate the specific emotion that best represents the state of mind you are presently experiencing. Take a few deep breaths before you begin; this may help you to relax and to focus on the task at hand.
So let’s say that you are feeling a mild form of anger. Check the chart to see which terms fall under the category of this base emotion. You may discover that you are experiencing a more subtle form of anger such as annoyance or frustration. Then again it may be something altogether different from anger and more in the realm of let’s say sadness or even happiness. Nevertheless study the chart to determine which particular emotion has a hold on you in this present moment.
Assuming that you are not overly tired or in the thralls of worry or anticipation, this exercise will be relatively easy, but should you find yourself feeling overly anxious or distracted, like a fish in water you may not be able to comprehend what you’re breathing in; i.e. the emotion may be so overwhelming that you may not be able to decipher its name. In such an event it may be best to step away from this exercise and care for your basic needs before you resume.
Once you have located the predominant emotion that you are experiencing in this moment, try analysing it in the following way:
1) How intense is the emotion on a scale of 1 to 5.
2) What part of the body do you feel its presence or impact. For instance are the palms of your hands sweating or is your stomach churning with distress.
3) Sit with the emotion for a little while to see if another emotion should rise up and take its place. Try not to resist it but be fully accepting of its force.
4) If the emotion should remain with you for more than a few minutes then silently ask what it requires of you.
It could be that you simply require some rest or the nagging feeling might remind you to take care of financial matters. The emotion could also be stirring you to act upon a nasty habit that you have fostered over the years. Maybe the emotion will try to goad you into mindless activity so as to keep you numb from more pressing matters. Whatever emotion comes to mind just let it be for the time being without trying to intensify or extinguish it.
Expanding our vocabulary of emotions, and cultivating the practice of being at ease with them, can help us to embrace life all the more. Emotions are like indicators that remind us if we are diverting from that middle ground of equanimity. They can help to shed light on an issue and assist us with providing appropriate responses.
That is not to say that emotions in and of themselves provide concrete evidence into the truth of a situation. For instance we may feel jealous about our partner working late, therefore they must be having an affair, may not be a realistic way to interpret our emotion. Let’s face the music here; emotions don’t make something so, no matter how intense they may feel, and yet they do seem to ‘motion’ the sort of values we hold dearly.
Our manner of thinking can certainly distort or cause us to misread our emotions, and with dire consequence should we use a negatively charged emotion to prop up and underpin further erroneous ideas. The deeper we explore this subjective dimension of our inner-selves, the more we learn just how complex these emotions are rooted into our psychology. One might even find themselves wondering how enslaved they are to appeasing these emotional charges. These embedded impulses may have more to do with our orientation of the world than meets the eye.
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