Yes, it’s a question that is asked a lot, and we don’t often stop to really think about the answer. But there is significant meaning behind the question itself.
Emotions are a state of feeling, a psychological state that is influenced by something external, a thought, or perception. It is often associated with physiological and behavioural changes in the body, and this can be either pleasant or unpleasant. We need emotions as it signals to us what is happening, think of it like a warning or a trigger sign. It is an evolutionary trait – our ancestors were able to respond to danger by responding to the emotion of fear (say if something were to be rustling in the trees to come and harm them).
This kicks into action our Sympathetic Nervous System, responding to threats (both real and perceived) to prepare our body for action or even inaction – flight, flight, or freeze. This activates our bodily systems, such as:
So, our emotions can quite literally, save us. Even if it may not be every day that we are facing a life-or-death situation, emotions still play a large role in our everyday life.
Let’s start with the answer to the titled question, how am I feeling? Are we even answering this properly?
The Feeling Wheel
It is likely that we are not specific when it comes to answering this question, both to ourselves and to others. This is where the Feeling Wheel can be a resourceful tool to use, to help us identify exactly what we are feeling. The way to utilise this Feeling Wheel is to start from the inner circle to identify the correct segment, then gradually move to the outer circles for further identification. Once we have identified our emotions, we can start to understand why we feel the way we feel to express it and regulate it accordingly.
Emotions can really get the best of us. When we are feeling intense emotions, we tend to go into an “emotion mind” – saying and/or doing things that are impulsive, rash, almost like without thinking. We are not able to be rational nor objective during these times. It’s only when we calm down that we can think straight, and that’s when we realise the situation that “should have” occurred, feeling remorse and regret over what had happened.
Emotions are a tricky thing, because we don’t always allow ourselves to feel or to admit that we are feeling a certain way. We can suppress or avoid emotions. This can be due to our upbringing, culture, or society, in that talking about emotion was not normalised. It may be seen as a weakness to express ourselves in this way. So, as we develop and grow older, it’s not something that we get used to doing.
With emotions being suppressed and bottled in, we face a situation alike a pressure cooker, in that emotions simmer away to reach a boiling point. At this point, everything that was pushed down can have an explosive release. This process can have a tremendous impact on our physical body as well, evidenced by numerous research on the impact of stress on our body.
If this year is about change, we need to start allowing ourselves to feel, to give ourselves that permission. To recognise the emotions we feel in order to address it, understand it, process it, effectively express it, and regulate it.
Do not use this website if you are in a life-threatening situation. Call your emergency services.