Emotions live in and are processed through the body. The more grounded and connected we are to our bodies, the better we are able to experience and understand our emotional reactions. Emotional literacy (understanding and interpreting our feelings) and Emotional Intelligence (managing our emotions and feelings constructively) are vital when it comes to relating to others.
Self-help gurus often promote affirmations and positive thinking. I support using a positive lens to interpret life. However, when it comes to emotions, the positive thinking framework could be interpreted as recommending bypassing “negative emotions” or uncomfortable emotions by numbing or ignoring them.
When it comes to relating to others, our uncomfortable emotions (sadness, fear, anger, anxiety, etc.) have as much or even more to tell us about how to handle our interactions than “positive emotions” (joy, excitement, happiness, etc.).
Uncomfortable emotions are there to show us that something is not right, that danger may be present or simply that boundaries or a change is needed. Let’s put this in context, with an example.
John (not a real person) is in the process of entering in a business partnership with Steve (also not a real person). When reviewing the legal documents to finalize their business partnership, John realizes that terms not discussed by him and Steve have been included. He does not agree with some of the terms and feels uncomfortable.
John is familiar with the EmBody Joy process, so he takes the time to connect with his body and explore what his feelings mean. John seats down in a quiet room, audits his bodily sensations, he feels a warm and uncomfortable sensation in his stomach. He recognizes that he usually feels this way when he feels undermined.
Once he understands his emotions, he picks up a notebook and brainstorms how to address the situation with Steve. John identified that the best way is to have an honest and direct conversation with Steve before proceeding to solidify the partnership.
John calls Steve and invites him to have a cup of coffee to discuss the documents. At their meeting John calmly asked Steve about the new stipulations in the documents. Steve answers, oh those, my lawyer recommended I include those changes in the document. John states, if we are to be business partners I request you discuss changes with me verbally before putting them on paper. I was surprised to see something we did not discuss in the documents. For this partnership to work for me I need full transparency. Steve understood and agreed to always discuss things verbally first.
Then they both got into the actual details of the documents, some of the changes were important to Steve so John agreed and then felt comfortable signing the documents. John and Steve started their partnership being honest and transparent about their needs and desires.
Understanding our emotions allows us to ask for what we want, set boundaries when needed and be more open and empathetic towards the needs of others. Grounding: Relaxing and auditing our bodies, reveals what we truly feel. Processing: After acknowledging our emotions identifying the best next step by brainstorming in writing (hand writing is better to process emotions) allows us to design a plan. Action: Actually following through in our plan, and being clear and respectful in expressing our needs. Openness: Allows us to listen to others and identify ways to also meet their needs. That is the EmBodies approach to emotional intelligence.
All emotions are valuable in helping us design the lives and relationships we desire. Let’s EmBody discomfort, happiness and joy!