He who knows the universe and does not know himself knows nothing.
Jean De La Fontaine
Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom.
Tao Te Ching
Your ability to “hope for the best and dance with the rest” becomes more likely when you take the time and trouble to know yourself emotionally. The character quality I`m describing is “emotional self-awareness” and is part of Emotional Intelligence.
Emotional self-awareness is defined as:
“The ability to recognize your feelings, to differentiate between them, to know why you are feeling these feelings, and to recognize the impact your feelings have on others around you” (The EQ Edge by Steven Stein and Howard Book).
Emotional self-awareness is a necessary first step towards exploring and coming to understand yourself. Then once you know yourself you will more readily be able to embrace change and growth. What you don’t recognize you can’t work on!
If you are unaware of what your feelings are doing to you and through you to others, you will keep hitting a wall in your growth and development. You will reap the fruit of sarcasm, disrespect, poor health, and alientation from others. This fruit is a result of allowing anger, frustration, sadness, disappointment to surface in inappropriate ways.
If you’ve gone through a traumatic event or experienced a loss of some kind, it’s natural and normal to have strong emotions. Just living life involves experiences that trigger an emotional response.
The goal is not to…
- be in a constant state of analysis
- stuff your emotions down
- run as fast as you can from your feelings
- wear your feelings on your sleeve for all to see
Remember, unpleasant feelings are normal after…
- injury or trauma
The key is to…
- be conscious of the way you feel and own it (notice your feelings and be able to describe them)
- develop the ability to determine why you feel the way you do (“I feel this way because…”)
- determine a healthy response to the triggers that raise or lower your emotional temperature
- ask others who know you to tell you when you fly off the handle or start acting in a way that hurts or impacts others negatively (vulnerability is scary but essential!)
Without good direction, people lose their way; the more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances. Proverbs 11:14
The results of growing in emotional self-awareness are many:
- better physical and mental health
- richer and more meaningful relationships
- healthy grief
- positive change and learning
- healing of the soul
- greater closeness to God
Some people are scared off by this conversation. It strikes fear in their heart to talk about feelings and they`d rather avoid them all together. That is understandable but unfortunately there is no way to fuel hope and dance with adversity without learning to be with and dance with the whole range of emotions.
One more thought…
When you are looking in the mirror, you are looking at the problem.
But, remember, you are also looking at the solution.
What part of emotional self-awareness do you do best? Where do you need improvement and who can help you grow in that area?
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