If you were drunk or addicted to something or mentally aberrational, could you recognize that your behavior was different? Do you know what makes you cry or what makes you angry? Unless emotions are intensely experienced, many people find difficulty in describing or relating to their feelings. They sometimes even deny experiencing the emotions of love, fear, anger or pleasure, because of the lack of conscious awareness of such emotions. People may even feign love or pleasure to cover up unhappiness and low self-esteem. Some obese people are unable to tell the difference between being fearful, angry or hungry, and so they lump all those feelings together as hunger. Then they feel better about themselves by eating. The hunger for food and sex also gets confused in some people, whereby food is then used to gratify sexual frustrations. Sexually promiscuous people sometimes cannot distinguish between lust, compassion, sorrow, gratitude, kindness -- and love! When you practice identifying your emotional states as they happen in your life, you learn how better to manage them. You also learn how to honestly know yourself better as well.
As an exercise with a partner, begin by identifying how you feel sitting in front of him (her). Are you excited, perplexed, pleased, enthusiastic, curious, embarrassed, confident, bored, elated, sad, happy, frightened, confused, aroused or what? Probe yourself, be honest and identify your emotions to your partner. Since your emotions are often only temporarily acknowledged, you may only have momentary glimpses of feelings as they pass through your mind. Consciously observe, tune into and identify your emotions as they pass, and relate them to your partner. Afterwards, reverse the roles, and let your partner do the same with you. By consciously identifying your emotional states, you begin using more of your upper brain regions involving mindful behavior.
As another exercise, bring your conscious attention to a primary emotion you have been experiencing recently in your life, and identify this feeling to your partner. Where in your body do you feel it? Is there any discomfort or any pleasantness in your abdomen or chest area? Tune into any subtle changes that are happening in your mind or body. What other emotions do you find connected to it? Identify all of these to your partner. Then reverse the roles, and let your partner do the same with you.
By identifying your emotions honestly to your partner, a close friendliness often develops that ordinarily would not be experienced with superficial conversation. If you practice identifying your emotions to yourself and others often, there will be much more emotional clarity and integrity in your life, and your friendships will be based on genuine feelings rather than false pretenses. Not surprisingly, a self-healing process often results due to this more complete usage of the brain.
After you get good at consciously identifying your various emotional states, you can practice using those emotions that make you feel good about yourself over those that are self-destructive before beginning a considered action. You can even visualize doing an action first, and study how you feel before you actually do it. Experiencing better emotions can improve your learning potential, your intelligence, your job performance, your interpersonal relationships as well as your physical health. By clarifying and identifying the emotional experiences that really make you feel good inside, you can better determine what you really want or desire as important in your life. The next time you experience a particular exceptional feeling, take the time to be mindful of it so you can remember it better and reproduce the feeling later when you want. Explore how your inner self is reacting to it. After a conversation or after reading a novel or after seeing a movie, get into and identify mindfully whatever emotions you feel. By doing this frequently, you'll be able to reexperience favorable emotional states more easily in the future while avoiding unfavorable ones.
Many thought processes and the emotions connected to them are often unconsciously replayed over and over throughout the day and even throughout the night, and are directly responsible for your daily moods and behavior. You can change this unconscious inner movie with a consciously directed movie of your own.
As an exercise, create right now a positive movie of your past experiences involving courage, confidence, happiness, unconditional love, compassion, forgiveness, appreciation and enthusiasm to play over in your mind. (If you have trouble remembering such experiences, create instead a fantasy movie of where you would like to be or how you would like to be treated by some special fantasy person.) Briefly jot down the main points of those experiences in a notebook if necessary. Recognize and tune into the good feelings you are experiencing so that you can recreate those feelings whenever you need them in the future. Later, you should immediately use this inner movie to switch from any negative state, like guilt, depression, sadness, fear, anger, lust, worry, etc. You can also replay this movie just before retiring at night, and again just upon arising in the morning to positively jump start your day. By getting into past positive, emotional experiences and reliving them often, you can enhance the expression of those emotions in the present moment. Remember, you have the power to choose your state of mind to anything you wish.
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