Hi KALMers, have you ever been blamed, or blame yourself for having a certain emotion: angry, sad, or even happy? Have you ever been asked, or asked someone, “Why do you have to be so emotional?
We seem to give our emotions such a bad reputation!
Psychologically, each emotion has a positive purpose: to keep us safe and healthy. They are natural responses toward our everyday experiences. Our 6 basic emotions based on Paul Ekman’s research are: happy, sad, angry, fear, disgust, and surprise – and each play their own role in making sure we are safe and healthy!
Although some of those emotions are considered negative because of how uncomfortable they feel (such as sadness, or anger), each of those emotions can benefit us if we know how to identify and understand them, and then take action.
We too often suppress them instead. What happens is, they will bottle up and we’ll experience their even worse side effects.
KALMers, emotions are a big part of our lives as humans. Feelings make us human! Don’t put yourself down just because of what you think you should or shouldn’t be feeling.
Keep reading to find out more about why we should build up our emotional awareness, and how to get started.
Our KALMselors are experts at this! Download our app to try counselling for a healthier mental and emotional life.
Symptoms of Suppressing Emotions
KALMers, taking care of our emotional health will help us maintain both physical and psychological health. If emotions are suppressed, the symptoms may appear as follows:
- Muscle pain, especially around the neck and shoulders.
- Gastric pain, especially worsened during stressful times.
- Sudden sadness without cause or reason
- Lethargy, not being able to work or do any activities
- Loss of excitement to do things you usually enjoy!
First of all, suppressing feelings have been found to have an effect on your physical health. It is not just a psychological problem. Symptoms of suppressing feelings for a long period of time may even worsen chronic illnesses.
Second of all, suppressing feelings to reduce the experience of uncomfortable emotions will make you numb, not happier. You’ll lose the ability to fully enjoy the emotions that are “positive” or pleasant.
This is dangerous, because your emotions are there to help! Read on!
All Emotions Have A Positive Purpose
KALMers, have you ever felt fear, standing at the edge of a cliff? Have you ever felt sadness after making a mistake at work? Angry when someone cheated you?
All of our emotions have a positive purpose, which is making sure that we are safe and healthy.
- Happiness helps us recognize the things that are good for us, and precious to us.
- Surprise focuses our energy toward new situations and circumstances, so that we can adapt.
- Sadness teaches us to recognize what is missing from, and what we are longing for in our lives.
- Anger directs our energies toward solving physical and social threats.
- Disgust helps us identify and reject what is not healthy for our body.
- Fear protects us from potential danger.
After they make us feel a certain way, we are meant to take action.
The happy things we keep. The fearful ones we avoid! What we long for, we fulfil. The disgusting we reject, the threats we work to get rid of.
But we know it’s not always that simple, KALMers.
Our relationships, social bonds, and cultural expectations often give us certain acceptable ways to behave. That is just part of life in a community.
However, too often that causes us to suppress uncomfortable emotions, instead of work through our emotions in a way that benefits everyone.
On the flipside, it has also caused us to chase after Happiness in ways that don’t solve the real problems. We can become addicted to things that make us happy on the surface: food, shopping, watching TV and movies, alcohol, etc. Happiness, in this situation, only serves to encourage unhealthy behaviors, postponing the effects of our problems and our stress.
KALMers, let’s stop making enemies with our emotions! Let’s befriend them on this walk of life.
Identify, Understand, and Take Action
This is a simple three-step method to increase your emotional awareness.
- Identify – as soon as you feel uncomfortable because of an emotion, take a deep breath and try to identify which emotion you are feeling, and what has happened to cause it.
- Understand* – is there a particular reason why you feel that way? Would everyone respond in the same way if they were in your situation?
- Take Action** – consider what the positive purpose of that emotion is, and choose an action to take.
Oddly enough, Step 1 is hard enough to do on its own! We spend a lot of time telling ourselves not to feel emotions, that we forget what each emotion feels like. We must stop putting ourselves down for having good or bad emotions.
Step 2* is hard in its own way. It’s about self-knowledge, and about knowing how you are different from other people. Ever wonder why a sibling will immediately get mad at you if you a say a certain phrase? Your history with each other affects the degree of their emotional response. That’s why people who know each other for longer will push each other’s buttons more easily!
In some cases, you can have the same drastic emotional response even when someone who you don’t know triggers it. When you put in the effort to find out why you have different emotions when you do, and what your own particular responses and triggers are, you can be kinder to both yourself and other people.
Lastly, for Step 3**, we will never recommend that you take action that is at another person’s expense. In other words, we don’t recommend you hurt other people to make yourself feel better. We believe, KALMers, that there is always a way of expressing emotions, changing our situation, or making peace with our triggers in a way that lifts each other up, instead of tearing each other down.
Emotional awareness is a process, so be patient with yourself! It is one of the most exciting adventures you can go on: a road to becoming a healthier, happier you.
Of course, the process is much easier and fun with someone to help – someone to listen, to understand your experiences with you, and help you figure out the right action and solution.
Our KALMselors are ready to accompany you on this journey! Download our app here to try out online counselling.