Emotions can bring intensity and vibrancy to our lives, but sometimes, it can be challenging to navigate a murky sea of various feelings, especially when positive and negative emotions collide. Emotional clarity can help us to understand precisely where our heads and heart lie.
Why is emotional clarity important? If you do not understand how you are feeling about a particular situation or towards a specific individual, it can be difficult to know how to make decisions or know how to move forward productively.
If you are unclear about your emotions, it can lead to inappropriate reactions or ambiguity with personal boundaries. You may inadvertently reward poor behavior or unintentionally punish someone without reason.
Luckily, there are powerful methods that you can use to learn how to process your emotions. If you find yourself confused or unable to act effectively, we invite you to discover some fundamental principles that you can use in managing your feelings.
1. Clearly Label Your Emotions
Imagine a clear glass jar filled with an unknown substance that is red in color. The contents could be a sugary strawberry jam or a fiery hot sauce; one option will be sweet to the tongue, but the alternative could burn you.
Unless the jar is clearly labeled, you won’t know what is inside it. You can take a guess, but if your answer is incorrect, it can lead to a misstep of action; no one wants to spread hot sauce on toast!
“The more fluent you are with real emotional language, the more clearly you will be able to think about how you’re feeling.” Labeling your emotions can help determine what you are dealing with and what to do next.
When considering what type of emotion(s) you are feeling, it’s best to use plain language and a simple vocabulary. For example, there are a variety of synonyms you can use to describe the emotion for ‘angry,’ but the actual word ‘angry’ works just fine.
Depending on who you research, there can be anywhere between six and eight basic human emotions; they usually include anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, and surprise. The general theory is that more complex feelings, such as anticipation, contempt, and trust, are built from the foundation of our primary human emotions.
For the sake of clarity, start with the basics and keep your labels simple. If you don’t want to complicate your thoughts even further, try not to convolute your language.
2. Validate Your Emotions through Acceptance
Once you understand what you are feeling, the next step is to accept the emotion mindfully; internalize it, and absorb all of the energy that it is giving to you. Denying yourself the opportunity to process the feeling will keep it stuck within you, adding to your mental state’s cloudy residue.
The point in accepting the emotion that you are feeling is not to hang on to it or obsess over it. However, once you can acknowledge it, it is then time to release it from your psyche.
When was the last time that you gave in to your feeling of sadness? Did you allow yourself to truly experience the sensation of that heavy ache in your chest while tears rolled down your face?
Do you ever wonder why you feel so much better after a good cry? It’s because you mindfully permitted yourself to embrace your emotion by completely accepting it into your mind and body. The tears and anguish are merely a way for the sadness to run its course through your being.
When we try to ignore a strong emotion in an attempt to invalidate its existence, it continues to fester inside of us. “Emotional acceptance promotes mindfulness, or the ability to see the emotion for what it is without judging it or attempting to get rid of it.”
Befriend your emotions so that you can set them free; otherwise, the feeling will continue to haunt you, adding to the cloudy layers of your emotional turmoil. Emotional acceptance is an act of self-care; give in to yourself so that you can move on in a productive and healthy way.
Remember, nothing in life is permanent, even negative feelings such as anger and sadness. The next time you encounter an emotional hurdle, instead of seeing it as something to avoid, observe it as something to go through to overcome this obstacle.
3. Embody Your Emotions through Exercises
Often, when we are experiencing a strong emotion, we feel consumed by our minds. Our thoughts then intervene, creating a narrative which can add to the chaos.
Creating a game or an exercise can be an interesting way to identify your emotions by getting you out of your head. One way to do this is by timing your feelings.
When you are deep in your feels, it can seem as though your emotion will last forever. Timing your emotions is a way for you to measure the actual time it takes to feel it in quantitative terms.
Another trick you can use is to write down your emotions on a small scrap of paper, describing them in one word, using plain language. Then take a piece of paper and place it close to your heart, feeling it deeply.
The last step is to burn the scrap of paper, turning into ash. The physical transformation of emotion from paper to ash is a symbolic gesture of your willingness to recognize and embrace the feeling before releasing it completely.
Our emotions are essential as they can create a vibrant kaleidoscope within us, adding to the depth of our being. However, as each sentiment layers itself on top of another, it can generate a murkiness in deciphering what we feel.
Gaining emotional clarity is important to your mental health; it can help you to make sound decisions from a place of peace. The best way to process your emotions is by labeling and fully accepting them before releasing them from your being.