Last week I was reading an article in which an author explained about ‘Emotional Awareness quoted in the book Bhagwat Gita’, which left me speechless, not because I support any one religion (I consider myself secular.) rather how it was explained in succinctly. I could not quote that author or quote because I could not get permission from the author and I will be honest, I have never read the Bhagwat Gita, so I won’t falsify the information. I do want to share what I read. I promise you won’t regret it.
Human Suffering (whether it is mental or physical) is real. It is all about perception thereby your attitude towards any situation. This explains why same situation triggers different and varied emotions in so many individuals, situation is still same for all. As you know we cannot control many things in our life, but we can control/decide our reaction to any situation whether it is pleasant or stressful. it is like a skill or an art; more you practice more you will get good at it. As humans we are tuned to express our emotions and it is a healthy practice. Without emotions, we will be like a laptop (smart but no emotions of his own). To live fully is to express what you see and what you feel. The whole essence lies in being aware of your emotions, your awareness will help you to tackle your reaction, thereby your perception.
Emotional awareness is directly related to the emotional quotient. https://www.yadavruchi.com/post/emotional-quotient-or-intelligent-quotient
This post is a second in series with the ‘Understanding the emotional needs’
To understand your emotions, it is not necessary that you go through the trauma. Emotions and emotional needs are the basic skill set we all are born with, but during the process of development some of us loose touch with our emotions mostly because we lose awareness about them. Let me give you some examples which might help you in understanding how we ignore or suppress emotions ‘don’t be a cry gal’ , ‘you cry so easily’ , ‘you are acting as if you are on your periods’ , ‘men don’t cry’, ‘big gals don’t cry’, etc. These comments or labels look so mean and asking us to get hard wired about emotions.
Then many wonders what went wrong in parenting, when they found out their children getting therapy sessions for being so stoned about emotions. Do you know we as humans can use words and the motive for using words is to express what you feel, then why to take opposite path? Why to shun the emotions? The words human and humane sounds similar and what make us humane is compassion that we can show for other fellow beings, but that is impossible if you don’t feel your emotions rather it will be regressive on your part if you do so, reversing the evolution which our ancestors have passed on to us by surviving and learning for thousands of years.
Researchers believe that the level of emotional awareness directly correlates with self-esteem. You will be surprised to know that there are various levels/spectrum of emotional awareness. These levels are based on the little to intense emotional awareness.
Experts like Lane and Schwartz have put forth the theory of existence of five levels of emotional awareness, which is called as the Levels of Emotional Awareness Scale (LEAS). The five levels of emotional awareness described are:
1. No emotional Awareness: This is where you don’t know what you are feeling. E.g. you feel like you are just plain stupid for not eating breakfast on time because someone pointed out that it is wrong way, which is more of a judgement based on some situation but not an emotion. It is considered as the lowest level of emotional awareness.
2. Action tendencies: Your awareness is limited to some sort of physical sensations in the body which is in response to the anxiety or happiness you are feeling but, not able to comprehend the feelings or emotions. E.g. your stomach is feeling tensed or getting butterflies in your stomach in response to first date with your crush. This is more of a reaction rather than pointing out exactly what you are feeling. Still not able to comprehend other’s emotions. Lack of empathy and compassion.
3. Single emotions: Your awareness is limited to having one emotion at a point of time, such as happiness, anxious or sadness. Here a person might be able to identify other person’s emotion but only one emotion at a time.
4. Blend of emotions: This is where a person might feel contrasting feelings like angry, sad and frustrating or overwhelmed and happy with crying at a same time but have a hard time understanding other’s feelings at the same time. It is second highest level of emotional awareness.
5. Blends of blends of emotions: This is considered as the highest level of emotional awareness. He can simultaneously comprehend his own emotions and other’s emotions and perspective. These people can show compassion and empathy.
Throughout the world LEAS scale has been used in various research purposes. Identifying yourself and ranking as per the LEAS scale is a good way to understand your emotional awareness. You must know that emotional awareness starts from your birth, so if you want to change your level of awareness then understanding the root cause is very important.
How to Practice Emotional Awareness?
Most psychiatrists ask their patients to develop a habit of journaling their emotions or mood diary.
The process of writing your emotions gives you an insight about what are the highs and lows of your emotions, also provides you with feedback about what are the triggers which cause distress and what makes you feel happy. This process is unique to everyone; it might vary even amongst your own family members. What makes journaling so effective is that it will help you understand your emotions and how to process them, rather than controlling them. When you write down something, you tell your brain to be aware of that very thing and it is simple yet effective method to simultaneously monitor and being aware of them. Remember, to control anything first we need to understand the stuff.
I will write more about 'how to fix unmet emotional needs' and why we are obsessed about it?