When I learned emotions are messengers that tell us important things we need to do, I was so relieved! This simple but profound understanding could help me work through my emotions to avoid the negative consequences from them, and to finally regain my sense of peace.
But how could I ever learn all the meanings and messages behind every single emotion? There are so many!
PROBLEM: There’s a myriad of emotions. So how are we supposed to learn how to discover the message from each one?
I remember being completely daunted by the task of picking apart my emotions every day. It seemed simply overwhelming and impossible.
The good news is this:
All emotions can be categorized into a select few parent emotions.
All the rest are just sub-categories, or emotional offspring, to those parent emotions. For example, my seven-year-old learned this lesson just a few weeks ago. She and I had talked extensively about anger, its message, and what to do when it comes. So I could not quite understand why she was not responding to me when she was frustrated. Finally, she said, “I know what to do with anger, Mom! But what about when I get frustrated? That’s different.”
Aha! The light bulb went on inside me. She didn’t know that frustration is a sub-emotion of anger. It’s like Anger got together with another Anger and then they had a whole bunch of little baby Angers–irritated, annoyed, ticked off, grumpy, grouchy, crusty, irritated, and yes, frustrated.
So, when you are working through your emotions, all you have to do is identify the emotion you are feeling, and then recognize which category it falls under. Is the parent emotion anger? Is it sadness? Maybe it’s fear. And once you know the answer to that, then you can call it what it is and work through it from there.
SOLUTION: Learn what emotions fall under what main category. (Use the Everyday Emo-Vocab Cheat Sheet to help!)
When I recognize I’m feeling frustrated, I acknowledge the frustration, but from then on, I refer to it as anger. Saying “I have anger” is an exciting step for me because I know how to work through my anger to find peace! Fear and sadness are easy as well!
So, what are you feeling right now?
Take a moment to inventory your emotions. Is there anything that comes to mind? Now identify that emotional offspring’s parent. If you’re not sure what it is, download my free cheat sheet to help you out until you can do it independently.
Then swoop that feeling under the parent emotion, and work through it right now! (Click on the Anger, Sadness, and Fear tags to read examples of how I’ve worked through those emotions.) Find some relief right now! It is possible. You can do it! You were born with this power—to recognize the message in your emotions and to act on those messages.
And now it’s time to play offense.
Rather than sitting around, playing defense and waiting for those baby emotions to arrive, let’s play offense–grab the Everyday Emo-Vocab Cheat Sheet, scan it, and find words that you gravitate toward. Do you use the word “grumpy” daily? Maybe “worry” is one of your most-often used words? Circle the top five words you use for each parent emotion.
(Here’s my list:
- Anger: angry, annoyed, frustrated, grouchy, irritated
- Sadness: sad, down, depressed, disappointed, hurt
- Fear: worried, anxious, afraid, insecure, nervous)
Now, take note of when you use your list of words throughout the day. If you hear yourself saying, “blah blah blah grumpy blah blah,” then stop yourself: identify you are feeling anger, and work through it right there!
Try it out! You will be excited at the progress you can make just from these baby emotions. And remember—every emotion counts! Don’t downplay how you feel. Don’t disregard the messengers. Every emotion has a purpose. Label it, find out its parent emotion, then work through it. You will be amazed at what can come from it!