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Understanding Emotions and What They Are Trying to Tell You

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Life doesn’t come with a manual. As we grow older and experience different situations, we become wiser and make better choices. Rearview Mirror Reflections Podcast ‌‌is a‌ ‌conversation‌ ‌between‌ ‌two‌ ‌Kenyan‌ ‌women‌ ‌sharing ‌their‌ ‌perspectives‌ ‌on‌ ‌life‌ ‌and‌ ‌what‌ ‌they‌ ‌are‌ ‌learning‌ ‌along‌ ‌the‌ ‌way.‌ ‌The‌ ‌conversations‌ ‌are‌ ‌a‌ ‌reminder‌ ‌that‌ ‌life‌ ‌and‌ ‌our‌ ‌perspectives‌ ‌keep‌ ‌evolving.‌

If, like me, you are something of a crybaby, you would know how showing emotions is frowned upon, ridiculed even, especially when you are the only one weeping because an animation character, Mr Moon in Sing, lost everything his father worked so hard for so that he could live a better life.

At some point, you just want to roll those tears back because the label “too emotional” is not a symbol of strength, now, is it? But emotions are emotions. You can’t really control them. You might try to, but at some point, like a volcano, they’ll erupt.

And so, I’m particularly delighted to share some insights from the seventh episode of Rearview Mirror Reflections, where Susan and Damaris talk about emotions and feelings.

Particularly, I want to focus on what they tell us.

Understand your emotions

The first step to understanding emotions is to recognize what you are feeling. Are you tense? Are you bubbly and in a joyous mood? Are you fearful?

Your body almost always detects the atmosphere around you and communicates that to you through feelings.

The important thing is to take note when it does.

So, if you are feeling anxious, for example, acknowledge your anxiety. Then go ahead and observe the thoughts you have. Hopelessness will be the overlying theme in your mind. Everything will seem insurmountable.

As those thoughts linger in your mind, take note of how you react. When your mind is saying you can’t do it, how do you respond to that physically? What’s your escape? It could be you distract yourself with your phone. You might shut down or just be quiet.

The next step is to backtrack and find out what exactly triggered that particular emotion, in this case, anxiety.

Damaris Agweyu, in the seventh episode of Rearview Mirror Reflections, talks about the emotion behind the emotion. She observes that often the feelings that manifest are a reflection of something deeper we are struggling with.

And so it’s only by trailing your feelings, how you react, your thoughts when experiencing that feeling and how you respond that you can better understand the deeper message the emotion is telling you.

The puzzle you should strive to solve when feeling a particular way is, suppose your emotions spoke to you. What would they be telling you?

Have self-compassion

We often judge ourselves so harshly, and we do the same to others where emotions are concerned.

But whatever your reaction, whether positive or negative, first acknowledge that whatever you are feeling is natural. These are natural feelings experienced by 7.9 billion others across the globe at one point or another.

Therefore, it’s okay to laugh out loud at a joke that no one finds funny. It’s okay to be angry even when others see what you are mad about as petty. Allow yourself to feel these emotions. And as Damaris puts it, “There’s nothing wrong with feeling what you are feeling.”

Why is that?

We are humans, and emotions are an inherent part of who we are.

Talk about your feelings

More often than not, showing our feelings is labelled weak. If you are a woman that quickly turns to “you are too emotional” or “you are being dramatic.”

I don’t know which one is worse between the two. Still, the one thing we seem to agree on with Susan Njoroge in the seventh episode of Rearview Mirror Reflections is that these connotations are negative and ridiculous because everyone has emotions and feelings.

Despite those nasty labels, expressing emotions is not a weakness. It’s strength. It helps people to restore a sense of control. The moment you share what you feel, you are already defusing the bomb. That is to say; you are literally neutralizing the feelings of fear, anger, anxiety, jealousy, uncertainty, etcetera.

Speaking about your feelings reduces the impact of the stressor. That’s why you feel so relieved when you talk about what’s bothering you. In addition, it brings in a new perspective. You’ll realize the situation is not that bad after all.

Revisit and reflect

Do you ever stop to think about your reactions? Analyze if your reactions were entirely driven by emotions or logic.

Think about how you handle your anger, for example. Yes, someone wronged you but was beating them up the best reaction to that situation? Was shouting at the top of your lungs the best resolution? Was walking away the right thing to do?

Suppose you were watching yourself from a distance. What would you think of your reaction?

When you revisit situations that caused you to feel a particular way, you can analyze their effect on you and better understand what exactly about them got you worked up. You’ll equally gauge yourself and look into ways to handle the situation better in future.

To wrap this up, expressing oneself is not weird or weak or wrong. It’s normal. And this is not just about the “good” emotions. Even the “bad” ones. Our emotions reflect our deeper feelings; feelings that words can never truly express.

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