Success: Discover What Emotions Are All About

SUCCESS: DISCOVER WHAT EMOTIONS ARE ALL ABOUT
Today we had the biggest session to date, of people who came to find out more about emotions. A real mix of people showed up with a dominant number of entrepreneurs since the event was held at the Wix Lounge in NYC... Entrepreneurs understandably are curious about feelings - since being one involves riding an emotional rollercoaster. Believe me, I'm on it. 

For those who couldn't make it, here is a glimpse into what we covered in this session:

The Objective

The goal of the session was to take some time to feel. Like really feel. And to understand what emotions are about, why they are here and what we can do with them.

My Story

So my story: I'm 28-years-old, Swiss and three years ago I had a fancy corporate job and well on my career track. Something didn't feel right though and I looked around at my older colleagues and realized, I did not want to end up there, waiting for retirement. So I worked up the courage to leave and set out to figure out what I really wanted to do with my life. After a project in India, and little jobs here and there I went on a retreat that I hoped would help me figure it all out.
Every morning they asked me, "What are you feeling?" and I always answered "Good!" which by no means satisfied them as a response. They showed me a long list of words and, to my dismay, I realized that I had no idea how I was feeling.
During that retreat, I learned that our emotions are there for a reason. The feelings we like to have are telling us we are on the right track. The feelings that we would rather not have, are alerting us that we have gone off track and that it might be time to course correct in some way.
I left the retreat determined that I had to learn to know what I was feeling and this is what made me set out to understand emotions - from psychological, spiritual and neurological perspectives. A lot of the information I found here was quite heavy to read and I now want to share the essentials of all I have learned.

Logic vs. Emotions?

"So, tell me, do you think it's better to live life based on logic and rational thinking?" I asked. (A few hands went up) "Or how many of you think a life purely based on our emotions is the way to go?" (Some hands went up).
"Well, actually, the best result is when we use both of them together. As Daniel Golemen, the father of Emotional Intelligence says, "In a very real sense we have two minds. One that thinks and one that feels."
We all learn to think rationally and use logic - it's what most of our schools revolve around. But we don't learn to understand, use or manage our emotions. Yet, we all have emotions. We have many emotions all the time, they may be conflicting, they may make no sense, they may not match how we want to feel or how we see ourselves. And that's all normal, but we never learn how to understand and manage them. So we end up suppressing, ignoring and pushing away our emotions. This doesn't really work.
Picture a young child who wants his parents attention. If the parents ignore him or tell him to be quiet, he will just scream louder. That's what happens with our emotions - if we ignore or suppress them, they will just get stronger.
Noticing Emotions
So the first thing to do is to notice our feelings and put a name to them. Research has shown that strong emotions, we don't enjoy having decrease in intensity when we name them. And mindfulness practitioners say that by noticing positive emotions, they last longer. Win-win, isn't it?

Game Time

So we are going to play a little game now. These are Feeling Magnets. I'd like you to tune into yourself and while skimming the words in the box, select the ones that feel right for you at this moment. Then write them down on this piece of paper.
(A few minutes later) Now think of something in your life that causes you distress - something uncomfortable - and put yourself in that situation to really feel it. Then skim through the words in the Feeling Magnets box and pick out the ones that you are feeling when you are thinking of this thing / person / event in your life that causes you distress.
And finally, think of something very positive in your life and really feel it. Then pick out the exact words that describe how you feel when thinking of this positive thing in your life.
Now look back at these three sets of feelings... Is there anything that surprises you about them? Is there anything that stands out or that you want to share?
Some of the responses that came from participants included:
"I'm surprised how many feelings I have"
"I was very surprised to find that I was feeling guilty... I didn't realize that."
"I have a lot of conflicting feelings, which don't seem to make sense."
...

In Summary

In the last few minutes we went through a lot of emotions. This is what is happening inside us all the time, we are just not aware of it. This exercise shows you that just by thinking your thoughts your feelings can change.
Our feelings come from our thoughts, beliefs, assumptions, memories as well as from events or situations around us. So when we feel something we don't want to feel... it's worth checking in with our thoughts and also what is happening around us. Consider different perspectives, alternatives ways of seeing things and challenge yourself.
Our emotions are there to guide us down the right path for US, and nobody else. They bring us messages to help us stay on track. All feelings we have are worth noticing and paying attention to and the best way to get rid of uncomfortable feelings is to notice them and find out what they are linked to. That's the place to start.
So I leave you with this... Consider getting to know your feelings. Make them your friend. Just check in and see how you are feeling from time to time. It's worth it.
At the end of this workshop I was feeling... Excited, Relieved, Useful, Helpful, Moved and Grateful.


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