1. Awareness of feelings
A common problem with emotional self-awareness might be expressed this way:
Even though I am capable of feeling my feelings and following them – in the practical process of everyday communication, I am on autopilot too much. Being on autopilot encourages glossing over feelings or denying them.
Still, I know my feelings affect my behavior, so when I am on autopilot, I find myself reacting to situations negatively, rather than consciously choosing how to respond.
Goal: To increase practical awareness of feelings and incorporate them into your everyday communication with my family.
2. Permission to express feelings
Permission to express feelings and the inner conflict that comes with lack of permission might be expressed this way:
I harbor an inner conflict that suggests I am not allowed to feel negative feelings or express them. When left to my own devices, I often dismiss my feelings with thoughts that I shouldn’t be feeling them, or am ridiculous, weak or foolish for wanting to express them.
I do have feelings, but when I do not give myself permission to consciously feel or express them, it creates a conflict within me. I am having an experience and at the same time forbidding the experience. If I ignore this conflict, any negative feelings seem to accumulate – or build tension – and come out in passive aggressive ways.
3. Feelings that color perception
Feelings can serve as a lens through which we interpret the world around us. This issue of perception might be expressed as follows:
Some of my negative feelings seem related to a traumatic past. These feelings can be triggered by people in my present day family, even though they do not intend to do so. In this case, I react poorly, by hiding or withholding my feelings and opinions. Then, I am back in the same cycle of repressing and acting passively aggressively.
4. Self-centeredness or narcissism
We can get so caught up with our struggle with feelings that we end up feeling like this:
I’d like to experience more presence and connection with others, rather than experiencing life in a more or less narcissistic bubble. I want to be more aware of the impact of my communication upon others and feel more empathy.
Interestingly, even though I struggle to healthily coexist with my feelings, the focus on dealing with feelings keeps me self-focused. The focus on my own feelings is a form of narcissism, perhaps.
5. Negative emotions and self-fulfilling prophecies
One interesting rule about feelings is that they seek expression. Any emotional experience naturally attempts to move through the body, inspiring all manner of gestures and muscle movement – and out through the mouth, eyes, and face.
Feelings want to come out, regardless of how we attempt to block them. When we don’t deal with feelings consciously, they still seek expression unconsciously. This is where negative feelings may become self-fulfilling prophecies. Read more about self-fulfilling feelings, such as fear and guilt, for example.
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