Whenever I teach emotional intelligence classes or facilitate women's groups, I am reminded how difficult it can be for people to allow themselves to feel. Yes, emotions can be overwhelming, especially the heavier feelings, but with practice, they can be a great resource for happiness. But first, we need to feel.
Give yourself permission to feel. But how?
Giving yourself permission is vital to be happy. But how?
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
What Is Emotional Awareness?
Awareness of anything is putting our attention on it. To be aware is to open to something and observe it.
Emotional awareness is the ability to observe, notice, and know when an emotion is happening within us, and ultimately in others, too.
We are emotionally aware when we can sense a feeling and identify it.
Emotions Have a Purpose
One of the hardest challenges for a person is to be burdened by a stockpile of unpleasant, charged emotions—but instead of feeling them, the person judges them, censors them, beats himself or herself up over even having them, and dutifully says, “I shouldn't feel this way; I have so much to be grateful for."
Do you really want to carry inside you unresolved emotions?
All emotions have a purpose, and they guide you along your way, leading you back to a peaceful heart.
Emotions are there to tell you what your next step is—what you need to return to serenity, to find your dream, to discover your passion, and to love more deeply.
They come and having served their purpose, they go, but only if a person identifies what they're feeling and allows the feelings to flow through them.
This is the true path to inner peace and happiness.
However, if you pretend your feelings don’t exist or if you treat them like a conniving drug dealer selling his or her wares in a dark alley, they only get more intense and troublesome. Many times when emotions are packaged, freeze-dried, or suppressed, they find their way to expression at very inconvenient times, sometimes erupting onto an innocent bystander or loved one.
So how do you give yourself permission to be happy every day? By growing emotional awareness.
And when we stop the flow of emotions, we have less access to vital energy for living and loving.
Transform Your Life by Feeling Fully
Many years ago, a wise man posed a question to me: “How would your life be different if you gave yourself permission to feel whatever you feel, whenever you feel it, for the rest of your life?”
I thought about that for some time.
It seemed like if I opened myself up to all my emotions they would swallow me up in a big black hole. But I decided to accept the challenge—and guess what? My emotions didn’t swallow me up.
That was a very long time ago, and it was a life-changing decision.
What I learned about emotions is that when I allow myself to feel them fully—whatever I feel whenever I feel it—something magical happens. I have a peaceful, spacious inner life most of the time.
The more I act on the wisdom of my emotions, the better I feel. And the more I am present to my emotions, the more I can be present and compassionate to others’ emotions as well.
Related reading: "How to Find Inner Peace by Resolving Conflicting Emotions."
Emotional Literacy Is the Ability to Listen to Our Emotions
Sure, there may be ripples of self-doubt or a wave of sadness or discouragement, but these are fluid and pass through quickly. Emotions are like ripples formed by a stone thrown in a pond.
Emotional movement shows you how you're interacting with life, and how you interpret your experiences. Stronger, more reactive emotions show you when it’s time to stretch and grow. When we have emotional literacy, we listen. We identify what we're feeling and take action to care for ourselves.
Stopping the flow of emotions (energy in motion) is what creates problems. It is only when we hold and repress emotions that they build and become volatile and hard to manage.
Be as attentive to them as if they were your closest friends—listen and take action. You’ll feel a little bit better and more skilled each time you do.
So I’m going to ask you the same question I was asked long ago:
“How would your life be different if you gave yourself permission to feel whatever you feel, whenever you feel it, for the rest of your life?”
Be prepared to feel more peace, greater freedom, and spaciousness in your world.
Check out our Emotional Intelligence online course. This course leads you step by step through obstacles, limiting beliefs about feelings, and skill sets to build self-awareness and emotional literacy.