Emotion identification is a process during which you consciously think about what you are feeling and you name the emotion you are feeling. There are many benefits to being able to this from better relationships with others to improving your mental health.
Why are emotions important?
If in the past you ate something that made you sick, you’d be less likely to eat it in the future. Physical reactions just like emotional reactions are a way for us to learn. If going swimming makes you happy, you are likely to seek out the activity again. If something on the other hand makes us sad or afraid, we will see it as a proof to avoid that event, activity or person in the future.
Emotions are a guiding mechanism. They can give you insights about the inner workings of your mind. Emotions show you what’s really important for you, what you care about or what you like or dislike. In addition, research shows that when people are more knowledgeable about their emotional states, they do a better job at regulating them.
Being aware of your emotional state is the first step towards emotional intelligence. This means asking yourself questions like: How am I feeling? What emotion am I feeling right now? Why am I feeling this way?
Keeping a check on your emotions requires conscious effort and it gets a lot easier with practice. But there are a couple of things you can do to make your life even easier! You can turn the question “How am I feeling?” into a notification on your phone. Consider checking in with yourself at least once per day.
What if you're finding it hard to identify your emotions?
In case, you are having trouble naming your mental state, you can use a couple of tricks for inspiration. You can simply google type of emotions and look for the one that feels right to you in the moment. The Plutchik's wheel of emotions is one of the tools you can use.
Identify your emotions using emojis
Another trick is to identify your mental state with an emoji and then try to match a word that matches what the emoji is expressing. Ask yourself, how am I feeling, choose an emoji that matches your emotion and then describe that emoji in a word. Now, why is it important that we use words to match the emojis? Because our minds don’t think in emojis. You think a.k.a. talk to yourself in words, that’s why being able to describe your emotions in words will not only bring more clarity to you, but it will also be easier for you to express your emotions to others. And that’s one of the main signs of emotional intelligence – being able to say “I am angry with you right now.” instead of shouting out a bunch of curse words and slamming the door.
That was emotion identification. And going back to how we began – sitting down with our journal, answering the question “How am I feeling?”. So back to our exercise!
Once you’ve identified what you’re feeling, let’s take it one step further. To really benefit from exercise, consider using one of the most magical words in our language. It’s really a unicorn among the words. Our magical word is the word – Why. For example, if at some point you write “I’m feeling sad.”, follow it up with a Why?
In this way you will not only be able to identify your emotions, but you will also gain an insight into the origin of your emotions. This will become very useful in managing emotions, but we’ll focus more on that in our online course "Emotional Intelligence for Millennials".
Identifying emotions is great when we want to gain a deeper insight into understanding ourselves, but it will also help you in managing yourself on the spot. For example, when you are feeling overwhelmed in a social setting, with a specific conversation or while doing a task – you can also do a quick mental check by asking yourself: How am I feeling? What emotion am I feeling?
Keeping a check on your emotions will save you from a lot of unnecessary suffering. And knowing what you are feeling and why, is the first step towards becoming emotionally intelligent.
Bea is a writer, speaker, YouTuber and believer in the power emotional intelligence. With a background in psychology and business, Bea seeks to bring insights about psychology and emotional intelligence to the millennial generation in an entertaining way.