Expressing your Emotions as Part of the Goal-Setting Process
Emotions are complex things. Society tells us to acknowledge some of them, such as happiness, freely and openly. Other emotions, like sadness and anger, we’re told to repress. But what can expressing our emotions actually do for us?
You probably already know that sitting with your feelings can help you process things. It prevents you from bottling up bad feelings that are going to eventually spill out anyway. And by feeling your emotions, you can deal with them more fully and openly, allowing you to recognize and process what you’re going through more quickly.
What you might not know is that there’s another aspect of emotional wellbeing that involves using your emotions as pathways to achieving what you want. How does it work?
Emotions in life coaching
When it comes life coaching, the foundation of the Frame of Mind approach — a specific style of coaching I’ve developed — involves thought management. Normally, the bulk of the advice I give is about thoughts and beliefs, and how they can be shaped to empower us. But what about emotions? How do they fit into the picture?
By navigating your emotions properly, you can attain beliefs that inspire you to achieve what you actually desire. The following are four ways to think about, express and understand your emotions so that you can use them to your advantage and attain your goals.
DON’T: Emotional suppression
Emotional suppression is a classic maladaptive thought management tool. The truth is, it’s easy to skip over our own natural process of emotional development. After something bad happens, we want to start moving past it right away, and in doing so we skip the step of unpacking all the “less appreciated” emotions. That’s how you should be thinking of those other emotions, by the way — they’re not bad or wrong or useless — they’re just other ways of feeling.
Emotions are information. Like radio alerts, they tell us things about ourselves. Don’t turn off that inner radio. Take in all the information you can first, and then move toward processing and using that information to your benefit.
DON’T: Emotional substitution
Emotional substitution is a little sneaky. Most of us do this a lot, and while it’s not necessarily bad, it can hinder your emotional progress. How it works is simple: when you’re feeling an “unwanted” emotion, instead of allowing yourself to feel it, you say: “What’s something good I can feel instead?”
On paper, this sounds like a great thought management technique. In reality, it prevents you from giving yourself the time and space to first process those bad feelings. You want to let yourself express your emotions and give them a voice — then you can move on. You don’t want to judge your emotions, even the ones you don’t like. They’re all fair, and they’re all allowed.
DO: Emotional self-awareness
When it comes to your own emotional health, self-awareness is something you absolutely want to nurture. Emotional self-awareness involves feeling the emotion, naming it and then finding out where that emotion came from.
Try this: next time you’re feeling something, but you can’t quite understand it, do a “check-in” with yourself. Ask yourself: “What type of emotion am I feeling? More than simple sadness or anger, what adjectives can I apply to my feelings? Is it vengeful anger, lonely depression, or something else that’s very specific? What’s causing this emotion, and where did it come from?”
Homing in on your specific emotions is an integral part of emotional self-awareness. By asking yourself these questions, you’ll be doing the prep-work required for emotional empowerment.
DO: Emotional empowerment
Using your emotions as tools and paths toward beliefs is the final component of emotional thought management. It makes sense, then, that the last key to harnessing your emotions involves emotional empowerment.
Emotions are the doorway that leads to your beliefs about the world. When you feel a certain way about something, it informs what you believe about that thing. The beliefs that you develop as a result of your emotions are what will empower you to take the kind of action you want going forward.
Here’s where it’s all been leading: once you reach a sense of emotional empowerment, you’ve cultivated beliefs that are going to help you master your goals. This is where the intersection of emotions, thoughts and beliefs lies — and where your journey toward more thoughtful goal acquisition begins.
Mastering your emotions is the key to successful empowerment
The process of emotional management is a slow one. It takes time and patience to become self-aware and empowered enough to use your emotions in an intentional way. Once you do learn how to master your emotions, however, you’ll be far less apprehensive about them. Instead of approaching unwanted emotions with apprehension or fear, you’ll start to look at them with curiosity instead.
You’ll start to understand the process of emotional management as a series of self-directed questions. “What is this emotion telling me? Have I allowed myself to name it, feel it and understand where it’s coming from? Am I ready to move past it yet? And if I am, what beliefs do I want to take away from this experience? Lastly, how can those beliefs inspire me to achieve my goals?”
See how the process works? I hope so. If you’ve gained something from this journey, I’d love to hear more from you. Consider reaching out to the Frame of Mind coaching team and we’ll talk more about emotional wellbeing, goal setting and more.