There are only a few select things that are genuinely experienced universally across all ages, cultures, and gender identities, one of which is that we all share a range of feelings. The degree or depth of sense may fluctuate, but we all can relate to what it feels like to be happy, sad, or even angry.
Take a moment and think about how you are feeling right now. Were you aware of that emotion before you just thought about it? While we all experience various emotions daily, we don’t always take the time to be mindful of our feelings.
What are feelings?
According to Oxford Languages, a feeling is an emotional state or reaction. This applies to both physical and emotional experiences. Feelings help us to maneuver the ups and downs of our life. Feelings and emotions begin to develop even as an infant.
Our development starts with facial expressions or basic actions such as crying, laughing, or cuddling. Essentially, we feel and show emotion but do not comprehend our feelings and, more importantly, why we think them. As we grow and gain experience, we develop what is known as emotional awareness, or rather the ability to identify our feelings and their causes.
Why should I be aware of my feelings?
Feelings help us understand what we are experiencing internally and externally, maintain relationships, decide how to respond to a situation, and even affect each of our choices.
When we know our emotions, we can better communicate them to others, avoid or solve conflicts, and accept and move through negative feelings. Our entire existence and the world we perceive are built upon our emotions and how we interpret them.
Things to know about feelings.
- First off, everyone deals with emotions, both positive and negative. It is a normal human experience.
- Feelings vary in intensity. It just depends on the person and the situation.
- Emotions don’t last forever. Think of emotions like a roller coaster ride. Sometimes the dips or hills may last for a little while but eventually, it will head in another direction.
- Feelings themselves are not good or bad. It is the way we deal with them or express them that is good or bad.
5 signs that you are not aware of your feelings
Feelings play a huge role in our day-to-day lives and the quality of our experiences and interactions. When you are not aware, you risk the hazard of negatively impacting your relationships because of your lack of social competence. You also will lack adequate emotional regulation skills due to your lack of coping strategies in stressful situations.
A lack of awareness would present as:
- Being prone to outbursts. When you are out of touch with your feelings you may have difficulty moving past difficult feelings or reacting with a reasonable amount of intensity.
- Blaming others. Low emotional intelligence can present itself by blaming or deflecting.
- Poor coping skills. You may choose to walk away to avoid difficult situations rather than resolving the problem and moving on. Or you may suppress negative feelings, which leads to bottled-up emotions that can negatively impact stress levels and mental health.
- Getting into a lot of conflicts. Being unaware of your feelings also makes it difficult for you to understand and interpret others' feelings and actions as well. This easily leads to an increase in arguments due to lacking communication skills.
- Having poor listening skills. You will find it harder to actively listen which will hurt relationships and lead to feeling disconnected.
How can I increase my feeling awareness?
We build this skill from infancy, yet some develop it faster or more efficiently. Yet it is a skill that, with repetitive practice, can be increased and strengthened over time. Self-awareness can be practiced by routinely examining how you are feeling and why throughout the day, naming your emotions, rating the intensity of your emotions, and sharing your feelings with those you trust or a professional.
Other strategies include practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and meditation; journaling which may help you identify patterns and process emotions; or participating in an activity that is comforting to you such as a soothing bath or cuddles with your pet.
If you have just discovered that you may not be aware of your feelings, try not to be too hard on yourself. At times we all have trouble with our emotions.
Positively developing our feeling awareness will also expand our coping skills and increase our emotional intelligence, creating a healthier sense of self-awareness and overall well-being. These are critical components to leading a successful and fulfilling life.