As we become more self-aware, one of the most important aspects of learning about ourselves is to begin understanding our emotions. You will hear me cover this topic over and over because there are many complex layers (as well as incredibly simple layers) to understanding our emotions.
One ‘Tool for my Inner Toolkit’ that I personally use is the anger iceberg. Anger is a powerful emotion and one of the more socially accepted emotions. It’s easy to identify and most of us have experienced anger in a variety of ways. One of the approaches that have been beneficial in my practice is to recognize when I am angry and reflect on the why. This helps me to become an observer of emotions.
The thing is with anger there are usually underlying emotions that eventually bubbled to the surface as anger. We may have been hurt, jealous, disappointed, insecure, anxious, exhausted, or rejected to name a few and the anger eventually evolved from those. But when we understand anger is just the tip of the iceberg, we can begin doing the work to understand our anger below the surface. When we can understand our emotions, they become a lot less magnified and scary. And we can begin changing our relationship with our emotions by not running from them but by working with them.
Another benefit to understanding that there is so much going on underneath the anger we can begin applying this concept to others. So many people are angry right now, which is 100% valid. And when we see that that anger has a lot more story to tell, we can begin to cultivate empathy and compassion. I am planting this seed and going into it more in my book but for now, let’s focus on recognizing our own emotions and anger.
- Recognize when you are angry and name it. “I am feeling angry” (if this step is where you stop, it’s an incredible first step. Awareness is the powerful first step!)
- Take a look at an emotions wheel and point out what emotions you can relate to. (see Emotions Wheel, I’ll have my own for you to download soon)
- Once you choose an emotion like rejection or sadness, begin asking yourself “why do I feel rejected/sad? What prompted this? When did it start?” I recommend asking these questions over and over in your reflection practice. The answers to these questions usually don’t just pop up and you’re done. It takes time for them to reveal so give yourself grace and patience as you explore your inner world.
We live in a society that doesn’t value knowing ourselves, much less understanding our inner worlds and emotions. But as you know the status quo is the enemy to living a life of inner peace and freedom so we must gracefully step away from the assembly line. Understanding your emotions is a beautiful part of that process and cultivating strong self-awareness. My book “The Statue Foe” goes over all kinds of goodies and tools to use to cultivate self-awareness, inner freedom, and peace in your modern-day life.
May you be free,