We have eight core emotions: joy (happiness), sadness, fear, disgust, surprise, anticipation, anger, and trust. All of these emotions affect the way we behave, the way we perceive the world around us, and the way we react to situations, and they cause physiological reactions in our bodies. So, understandably, our core emotions have a huge influence on every area of our lives. But our core emotions are both conscious and subconscious, meaning that we are often acting from our emotions totally unknowingly.
Have you ever noticed you’ve sabotaged a new relationship and you don’t know why? That’s probably because your behavior is being driven from a deep-rooted emotion of fear. This fear may have been seeded in childhood or in a traumatic event, and it then gets easily triggered by current situations. Or why not think about times you have felt truly happy, a core emotion that is quite easy for us to recognize. That happiness is directly linked to you feeling confident, courageous, and free. This, in turn, affects your behavior; for example, it makes you feel empowered enough to take new opportunities and step outside your comfort zone, and it propels you to make better decisions and to react to the world around you in a healthier way. This is a clear demonstration of how our core emotions influence our behaviors and actions, both positively and negatively.
Brené Brown said, “Emotion and cognition, undefined and explored, drive every decision you make. You either develop self-awareness or you let these things control you.” So how do we develop awareness of our core emotions so that we can have better management over them? Well, we can use our feelings as clues.
In any given situation, most of us find it quite easy to understand and articulate how we are feeling. For example, your best friend goes behind your back; you feel let down, betrayed, disrespected. These feelings stem from the core emotion of anger. Or let’s say you did something that you’re not proud of; you feel remorseful, ashamed, or maybe embarrassed. These feelings stem from the core emotion of sadness.
By using our feelings to help us identify what core emotions are unresolved, we can begin to work on healing them rather than allowing them to subconsciously alter our behaviors and perceptions of the world around us. If you are feeling unsure of what core emotion your feelings are stemming from, you can use an emotion wheel to help you identify them.
Every self-development journey starts with awareness. Start to become aware of what feelings arise in response to any situation you are going through, rather than suppressing or ignoring them. Literally, feel the feels and allow them to guide you to a better understanding of your core emotions. Once you have done this, you can start to heal what needs to be healed, rather than let the feelings subconsciously influence your life without your awareness. Healing can be done in many ways, but some of my favorites are talking therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, reiki, hypnotherapy, acupuncture, and TRE (tensions and trauma release exercises).
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