From despair to hope, understanding your emotions can lift your mood.
Joy. Sadness. Fear. Anger. Disgust. These common words pop in our mind when we think of emotions. They could be how we feel at certain times in the work environment, at home, in public, in social interactions or during a crisis. And we could label them as a positive or negative variety.
But there is much more to feelings than these categories. Being aware of the why, when and how of emotions and being in charge of their different types makes us mature and capable of managing ourselves appropriately in any kind of situation – again situations that may or may not be to our liking.
Dr Jaya Sukul, clinical psychologist, Sarvodaya Hospital and Research Centre, Faridabad, says clarity about emotions is the key to understanding “what we are feeling, and why we are feeling [it] – which can help us to get in control of what we want.”
“Lack of awareness and identification of what someone is feeling and why can be dangerous; it can affect their mental health and they will not know what is going on.”
– Dr Jaya Sukul, clinical psychologist, Sarvodaya Hospital and Research Centre, Faridabad.
Situations as triggers
Tithi Haria, clinical psychologist at Masina Hospital, Mumbai, says the circumstance usually determines what a person may experience and how they may respond to it. For example, good news triggers elation; threat evokes fear.
“One should always try to identify their negative and positive triggers,” says Dr Sukul. This will help the people in certain situations to reduce or eliminate the unsavoury triggers and focus on positive or relatively more pleasant triggers for their peace of mind.
Ponder the problem
What do we do when an emotional provocation hits us? Dr Lav Kaushik, consultant psychiatrist, Sarvodaya Hospital and Research Centre, Faridabad, advises us to take some time off, address the issue, and understand that we are having an emotional undertone.
It also calls for patience as we will take some time to overcome it. “It is necessary to understand our emotions in order to work on them. We will get better eventually and gradually.”
Effect on daily lifestyle
What is the significance of emotions in our life? “Our daily lifestyle is determined by our emotions,” says Haria. She explains that we make decisions based on whether we are happy, sad, angry, bored or frustrated. We pick interests and pastimes based on the feelings they arouse. Knowing how we vibe to situations can make our life easy to navigate.
“Emotion is an essential part of maintaining mental health and having empathy for others. As we become older, we learn to understand emotions better [than before,]” says Haria. Instead of just reacting to triggers, we can identify how we feel and put it into words. With time and practice, we become adept at comprehending our inner responses and the reasons behind them.
Regulating the response
People can deal with emotionally disturbing situations over time with the help of awareness and effective processing. This way they can confront new or challenging experiences.
However, to many, it is difficult to understand and process their emotions. Haria shares a few ways to regulate reactions when we face emotionally unsettling situations.
- Heed the physical symptoms: We should first try to relax and then understand and address the underlying physical issues which can influence our emotional responses.
- Challenge negative thoughts: Making a habit of consciously weighing in the positive side of experiences can boost mental resilience and well-being.
- Positive self-talk: When we treat ourselves with empathy, we can replace some negative thought with positive comments; it can reflect in our emotion and behaviour, too.
- Choosing how we respond: In most situations, we have a choice of how we An angry response harms relationships. However, an affirmative or rational response will evoke a similar outcome.
- Seeking professional help: Managing emotions requires a high degree of self-awareness. Consulting a mental health professional helps self-regulation skills and creates a general sense of well-being – for us and for those who interact with us.