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Tuesday Tip: Identify Your Emotions

By The Healthy Minds Team

In this week’s Tuesday Well-Being Tip, we take small steps to incorporate insight into our daily life.

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The third pillar of the Healthy Minds Framework for Well-Being, Insight, can be tricky. In contemplative practices, we are looking deeper into our own motivations, concepts, and beliefs – but we are also working against a common human trait – ruminating about the negative. It can take some time to get the hang of it, but the practice of insight can be powerfully transformative.

In today’s Tuesday Tip, we’ll guide you how to start simply with this pillar, in the midst of a typical day.

Have you ever gotten mid-way through your day and declared to yourself, “I’m so stressed right now.”?

We use words like “stress” all the time without ever looking beneath the labels we use.

Today, can you explore a routine emotional reaction (like “stress”) and see what’s under the label?

Right now, identify a specific time today when you might get stressed or irritated, or feel especially tired. Set an intention to pause at that time to explore what’s happening in the moment. 

What does “exploring the moment” mean in this situation?

If someone asked how you’re feeling, for example, you’d probably use a specific label to describe it. However, in this moment, look deeper. Let’s take stress as an example. What does the word “stress” even mean? What’s the experience actually like? Is it a feeling in the body? Are there sensations? What kind of sensations? Where?

And what about your mind? Are there certain thought patterns playing out? Are there memories? Are you anticipating the future? Just explore, and add a dash of curiosity as you continue to delve deeper with your questions.

Make it about curiosity and discovery, rather than trying to fix or change anything.

It can be helpful to do this as a written exercise to notice your patterns, or just pause, take a mindful moment and notice what you are feeling. 

In the end, you will gain more insight into your moods, emotions and internal labels. You will break free from the limits of your own self-concept as you add more layers and depth to this personal analysis.

Give it a chance today, maybe with this guided active meditation, and see how it goes. Good luck!

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