Figure Out Your Emotions
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Health and Wellness

If You're Struggling To Figure Out Your Emotions, Here's Some Sage Wisdom Straight From The Mouths Of Professionals

Find a pen and paper, and let's begin The Story of Emotion.

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Anxious

I was recently doing some self-analysis and figured out I had a certain anxiety trigger but wasn't sure what it was or how to combat it. I came across a technique called "The Story of Emotion," which is a DBT (dialectical behavioral therapy) tactic to narrow an issue down to its basics. You answer a few basic questions about the issue on paper and use those answers to figure out the final answer. Putting my problem in simpler terms really helped get my foot in the door for recognizing the issue and beginning my fight with it. Common problems people examine with this are fear of abandonment, rejection, feelings of constant loneliness, etc. Here are the questions to ask yourself.

Prompting event/situation: What caused this issue?

Think about if a specific day, event, or relationship caused the issue. Keep it as simple as the cause itself; no perspective, no emotions, just the details of what occurred in your life.

Interpretation: Your thoughts about the event?

Here is where you can speak to your feelings on the event. For example, let's say for the event you wrote, "I watched a relative get hit by a car and hospitalized when I was 5." Your interpretation might be "I was young and struggled to handle the concepts of death and sickness. I became paranoid about losing family members and friends."

Sensations: What do you feel physically from this issue?

List your physical feelings regarding the situation. For example, someone facing fear of rejection might say, "When someone isn't nice to me, I get sweaty, jittery, and panicky."

Body language?

What body language do you have regarding this circumstance? This includes posture changes, closed-off arms, head up or down, tension in fists or other body parts, abilities with eye contact, etc.

Action urges?

What is your natural urge for how to act when confronted with the feeling(s)? Fight and flight responses are common examples. Maybe you want to punch a hole in the wall. Maybe you want to find a corner and hide. What's your urge? Is there more than one?

What emotion is this?

Finally, based on your answers to the other questions, three to five in particular, what can you call this emotion? For instance, if your answers included words like tension, frustration, and fight response, your answer to this question may be "anger."

Once you reach the end of this process, you can see on paper the details of this issue and how it affects you. The final question is especially important since it wraps up what all of these details result in; now that you can put a word to what you're experiencing, you (and maybe your therapist) can figure out what solutions and steps might be useful in combatting your issue/fear. I found this exercise extremely helpful, and I hope you will, too.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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