Five tips to improve emotional awareness

Graham Doke, City Meditation Coach at Anamaya, gives practical ways to cope with your emotions

by Psychologies

woman meditating headphones

1. Anger and frustration are natural, so take control. How you react to emotions is your choice. Anger and frustration will arise from time to time, but they do not have to take control. You can control how they affect you — by training in emotional awareness, you not only feel them arising, you become aware of why they are arising. And with this awareness, they will not dictate your behaviour — they become just another feeling, like touch or sight, to be given the importance you choose.  

2. When you dislike someone, understand exactly why — is it them, or is it you? Sometimes what we dislike in someone is a reflection of something we dislike about ourselves, even something  small – not thoughtful enough, not considerate of others, showing off... And, often we dislike because of envy (they have attributes we would like) or jealousy (they have stuff we want). Awareness of this is essential, not only because it makes you aware of yourself, but it also shows that you may be unfair to the person. 

3. Be aware of the reasons behind your emotions. You will feel more emotional when you are hungry, thirsty or tired – be aware of what’s really making you feel bad. We are easily confused about emotions and feelings: sometimes we might wake up feeling down with a sad ‘emptiness’ inside: sometimes, it is just that. Eat something. During the day you may start to feel unaccountably unmotivated – drink a large glass of water and wait a bit, it will usually help. And remember, if you are tired from exercise, overwork or lack of sleep, your emotions will be amplified.

4. Incessant, repetitive and loud noises are not annoying. You make them so, and you can choose not to. If a repetitive sound – drilling, whistling, a child crying – was of itself annoying, then everyone would be annoyed whenever they heard it. In truth, sometimes they are annoying, and sometimes they are not – and the difference is you. You are making the characteristic of ‘annoying’, and projecting it onto the noise. Be aware of how and when the annoyance starts in you. Analyse your own reactions and with practice, you can stop allowing yourself to be annoyed.

5. Notice how you actively feed your worries, piling them on until they are endless. Choose not to. This is an evolutionary product of the survival instinct: we are bred to worry about threats. The problem is, we have few real threats these days, so to satisfy the instinct, we build up tiny threats and make them huge. An antidote to the cascade of worried thoughts: slow them down, by focusing on just one of them; then restart. Have three strong visualisations you can use, for a minute or two to occupy your mind. After the visualisation, your mind will literally forget it was worrying.

'Emotional Awareness’ is one of the brand new self-development modules available on the Anamaya app available on the iTunes store now. With more than 350 meditations and 14 new therapy-based self-development modules, Anamaya offers help with specific day-to-day issues to help users develop their mind for ‘a better way of being’.  

Photograph: iStock



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