Emotions go unacknowledged and unidentified all the time, although not unfelt. This poses a problem in the long term in that due to this lack of awareness, our internal emotional compass becomes unreliable, leading us to make mistakes (i.e. emotion based decisions), unnecessarily fail , and inadvertently slowly pull ourselves further from the Self (i.e. becoming confused about who we are, identity issues, etc).
Keeping track of emotions and dealing with them as they occur is important in preventing mental health and emotional issues that might arise throughout life.
On average, children and adults alike are unfamiliar with their own feelings*, have a hard time identifying emotions, lack the vocabulary of emotions, and live life in a lot of pain and stuck, unable to understand why they feel the way they do or how to feel better.
It takes time and patience to train oneself to become familiar and aware of their emotions and deal with them as they come. It also takes a lot of stamina and courage to look your fears in the face and know that to maintain peace within yourself you must be able to determine what you’re feeling, how you came about feeling this way and where your attention needs to focus.
One of the easier ways to familiarize yourself with emotions and feelings is to simply become acquainted with the vocabulary. (Suggestion: print out a feeling list and make the conscious decision to ask yourself on a daily basis how you’re feeling and pick out the appropriate feeling/emotion from the list in front of you). Being able to properly identify your emotions will make the next step -of figuring out where those feelings are coming from and how to deal with them –easier.
If you spend a few moments each day focusing on how you’re feeling you will notice that other things might start to arise, such as being able to locate that particular feeling you’re experiencing in your body.
It’s important to focus on the identified body area and notice the thoughts emerging, or if you are more of a visual person, notice the emergent imagery.
Broadly, it is this internal process (awareness, identification, thought/imagery processing) that makes up what therapists refer to as “dealing with your emotions”. And while these are only a few steps and you might be tempted to look at it as a fairly simple process you must check your expectations, allow time and remain patient with yourself. There is no time limit (not a competition either) and some people process their emotions at a slower or faster rate than others.
*Based on my own observations as a psychotherapist working with children and adults.