Does it ever seem like you're confused or disconnected from your own feelings? Do you struggle to articulate your emotions when people want to know what's going on with you? Does it seem like you quickly (or randomly) move from one emotional state to the next- without any insight as to why that may be happening?
Identifying your feelings is important for understanding how and why you behave in certain ways. It's also essential for becoming more attuned to yourself. And as you gain this awareness, you may find that it's easier to practice self-care and self-compassion when you struggle with your feelings.
That said, this practice isn't always intuitive. Most of us don't grow up in environments where we readily talk about our emotions. If you struggle in this area, here are some proactive suggestions that may help.
Connect Your Mind With Your Body
The mind and body are interconnected, and we often store feelings in our bodies without really recognizing that. This often explains why people experience certain somatic symptoms like headaches, stomach pains, or chest tightness. In some cases, the body is quite literally holding onto stress, anger, or fear.
That said, you can become more aware of how your body and mind intersect. Activities like progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, and breathwork can help you draw these connections. Furthermore, full-body exercises like dancing or surfing can help you learn how to work with your body to master new skills and feel more confident.
To practice mind-body awareness without any extra steps, try to simply focus on how you feel at certain points during the day. For example, when does your body tense up? What times do you notice drops in energy or motivation? How does your body react when you spend time with certain people?
There's a reason many therapists engage in experiential, art, or play therapies with clients. These therapies allow people to positively express themselves without relying on direct communication. If you don't have the language or insight to identify how you feel, creative tools can help bridge that gap.
The next time you want better insight into how you feel, consider using a creative medium for support. Whether it's writing about what's going on in a journal, getting out some crayons or paper, or pulling out an instrument, getting it out may reveal important clues about what lies inside.
Share Whatever Is on Your Mind
Sometimes, it's hard to distinguish exactly how you feel until you start talking about it. Have you ever noticed how you sometimes feel significantly better after venting with a friend or a supportive group? Maybe you didn't realize you were even holding in all that tension until you let it out?
Sharing what's on your mind- without worrying about being judged- is one of the key reasons why having a support system is so effective. You need compassionate, empathic people who want you to be happy and healthy. You also need people who are interested in knowing the real you, even if you don't always like the authentic version of yourself.
If you don't have that current support system in place, it's worth seeking group or individual therapy. A trusted professional offers non-judgmental guidance. They also will work hard to help you better understand your feelings.
Familiarize Yourself With Emotional Vocabulary
It's hard to identify your feelings if you don't have the language to describe what's currently going on inside of you. As mentioned, most of us don't necessarily learn about how feelings work. We may grow up truly believing we can only feel happy or sad.
So, it's important that you commit to understanding how feelings work. Some people benefit from using a feelings wheel or chart to attune themselves to that language. Others will need specific psychoeducation on what different emotions feel like- and how they can distinguish one from another.
Keep in mind that it's common to experience multiple feelings at the same time. For example, it's normal to feel a sense of relief, sadness, and excitement all at once. Knowing that you can hold multiple emotions- at different times throughout the day- should help you recognize that different circumstances may trigger different emotional states.
Identifying your feelings is paramount for your emotional well-being. As you learn to articulate how you feel, you will likely become more empowered in navigating challenging situations. Subsequently, you will learn that your emotions are fleeting, and they don't have to dictate how you make decisions.
At The Resurface Group, we are here to help you understand your feelings and improve your mental health. No matter where you are on your journey, we are here for you and your loved ones. Contact us today to learn more!