ERI: Emotional Self-Awareness

Emotional self-awareness involves knowing what our emotions are and recognizing how our emotions affect our performance. Being aware of what we’re feeling is the first step in making sure we control our emotions rather than be controlled by them.

It may sound weird, but it is possible to feel strong emotions and not be aware of them. Have you ever known someone who was always angry but didn’t know it? This lack of awareness affects not only that person’s healthy, but also that person’s relationships with family, friends and co-workers.

Emotional self-awareness is a process through which you identify what you’re feeling and give it a name.

Why Emotional Self-Awareness Matters

We have been designed so that emotions are the motivating force in our lives, driving us to go ahead, pushing us backward, or stopping us completely. They determine what we do and how we feel. They affect what we want, and whether we get what we want.

Our hates, loves, fears and what we do about them are determined by our emotional structure. There is nothing in our lives that does not have the emotional factor as its mainspring. It gives us power or makes us weak, it operates for our benefit or to our detriment, it contributes to our happiness or our confusion.

Emotions are neither good nor bad, and they do many things for our benefit. They inform us that we have an unmet need. They give meaning and value to our thoughts. They prompt us to respond, and inspire responses from others.

Increasing Your Emotional Self-Awareness

  1. Remember that you can have strong emotions and not be aware of them. Don’t dismiss other people if they point out that you’re acting a certain way, since they may see something you don’t.
  2. Accept that your emotions are hardest to observe while you’re feeling them. So understanding your emotions will require some reflection on your part to think back about what happened, what you were feeling, and why.
  3. Emotions have a stimulus/response effect. In other words, what you THINK leads to what you FEEL. Don’t forget that the brain is the source of our emotions.
  4. Don’t confuse feelings with facts. That you “feel” something, does not mean that it’s true. That doesn’t mean that your feelings are invalid. It does mean that your feelings might not be giving you the whole picture.
Gary J. Oliver, ThM, PhD
Executive Director at Center for Healthy Relationships | + posts

Dr. Oliver is the Executive Director of The Center for Healthy Relationships, and professor of Psychology and Practical Theology at John Brown University.  He has authored over 20 books and more than 350 professional and popular articles.  Dr. Oliver has over 40 years’ experience as a Clinical Psychologist, Marriage  & Family Therapist and Spiritual Director.  He leads seminars & workshops both nationally and internationally on a variety of counseling-related issues, healthy relationships as well as Emotional & Relational Intelligence (ERI).

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