Emotional awareness

8 years ago I was working on a psychological testing system based around the Dialogical Self. There’s a ton of theory and thought behind this concept (and the project) but that’s another story. What I took away from it, and that stayed with me, is a Post-It note of questions.

I read this often, because something in my mind just will not hold these questions in place. I have to re-read the list and be confronted, each and every time, by there obviousness and utility. So, if you are like me and have the emotional self-awareness of a sponge, here are some not so simple questions you can stop and ask yourself. Feeling down? Feeling happy? You know, just FEELING in general? Take a moment and answer these questions:

  1. What is your name for this emotion?
  2. Was it a sudden onset emotion or a more enduring mood?
  3. How long did it last?
  4. Did you have any bodily sensations with this emotion? (take a moment and be aware of your body, what’s it doing right now?)
  5. Did thoughts come into your mind? Where were the thoughts about, were they about the past, the future, the present?
  6. Did you act or feel like doing something or expressing this emotion?
  7. What brought on this emotion or mood?
  8. Describe the situation, was it an internal event?
  9. What kind of information is your emotion giving you?
  10. Is it telling you something about yourself, a relationship, the world?

This list has not completely altered my emotional landscape, but it HAS made me aware that a landscape exists. This is good and has helped in my personal interactions, it has helped me ask the one question I never thought to ask:

What am I missing here?