Change Is Happening

Are you experiencing a change, or know you need to change, but feel conflicted?

When my husband interviewed for an out-of state job, my immediate responses were confusion and fear. How will we stay emotionally connected? Am I willing to move?

Are Your Feelings Confusing?

Talking to a colleague about the prospect of this change, I barely could hold back my tears. I paused to notice that I was feeling sadness at the possibility of re-location and concern about his career if he did not get the position. I was afraid of the unknown and also excited by opportunities in a bigger city.

We’ve all experienced emotional confusion. Maybe you’re confused about changing your practice, your career, or a significant relationship.

Importance of Identifying Feelings

Awareness of your feelings can drastically reduce stress and improve your responses. Although feelings seem like murky ground, power and clarity results when you acknowledge emotions.

Feelings are important because they alert us to a need. My sadness about the prospect of my husband relocating indicated my need for emotional connection. If I didn’t identify my underlying need, I was at risk of responding badly. My behavior might be to withdraw, when what I wanted was connection.

Noticing how you feel is required to replace non-productive behaviors of resistance, withdrawal, or attacking in the face of change.

Knowing Your Feelings

Emotional awareness is a skill that anyone can practice. By these methods, become more in touch with your emotions:

Notice and name your emotions. Notice your emotions as you feel them. Name them to yourself. Say, “I feel proud,” when a patient interaction goes well; or, “I feel disappointed” at not being selected for the committee.

Track one emotion. Pick a familiar emotion — like frustration — and track it throughout the day. Notice how often you feel it and the circumstances.

Build your emotional vocabulary. How many emotions can you name? To expand my awareness, I use a list I found on Google.

Keep a feelings journal. Take a few minutes each day to write about how you feel and why. Journaling your experiences and feelings builds your emotional awareness.

Be creative. As you read poetry or listen to music, try identifying the emotions an artist is trying to convey. Then recognize how you feel in response.

“Let’s shine the light of consciousness on places where we can hope to find what we are seeking.”

The words of Psychiatrist, Marshall Rosenberg, encapsulate how emotions can be a tool to help understand what is really going on in any particular situation. Ask questions, such as, “Why did I have this response?”, and “What can I learn from this?” Questions allow you to pay better attention to what’s happening, instead of just reacting to life’s circumstances.

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