Recently, I wrote about speaking your truth. But, what if you don’t know what your truth is, which is the case with some of my clients? Maybe you don’t know how you feel. What then? Do you really need to know how you feel?
If you don’t know what your feelings are, it’s time to get in touch with them. Why? When you know your feelings, you are more resilient, make better (business) decisions, and have a higher EQ — emotional intelligence.
The beauty of knowing your feelings is that you’ll become a more integrated, whole, and resilient person. As you go, you will learn to tolerate unpleasant emotions, rather than “blacklisting” them, and to experience your pleasant emotions more intensely and joyfully. You’ll surf emotional waves with more control. You’ll become more comfortably vulnerable. All of that contributes to your stress being brought into balance — ah, resilience.
An integrated brain leads to more emotional health, peace and harmony, and emotional flexibility or resiliency. By voicing your experiences and emotions to others, you both benefit. So, what’s holding you back? Were you trained to not speak up, do you want to avoid looking or feeling stupid or foolish, or perhaps do you think you don’t have any value to add? Regardless of what holds you back, you’re minimizing yourself with those thoughts.
It’s important to express yourself “in the moment” as a way of building a connection within yourself and to other people. Speaking your truth helps develop confidence, resilience, an overall sense of well-being, and your authenticity. The more you speak your truth in the moment, the stronger you are. Also, you become less emotionally reactive to challenging life events, and less vulnerable to what you encounter in life.
Since your voice is a link to your mind, it enables your inner world to be shared. Your inner world consists of wants and needs, thoughts and ideas, memories and perceptions, and feelings. Words live in the left hemisphere of the brain. Experiences and emotions live in the right hemisphere. There’s a bridge that connects the two hemispheres. When you use it, you strengthen it and integrate the two halves of your brain. Voicing your experiences and emotions, whether you do that in your journal, by speaking to someone, or even talk to yourself, helps you handle your feelings more effectively. It’s the voicing of your experiences and emotions that integrates your brain.
The more in touch you are with your feelings, the more readily you can put words to them. That’s when you have tapped into EQ, the predictor of your success in all areas of life. EQ is founded on self-awareness — the ability to feel and name emotions. The ability to name your emotions is one way to not feel overwhelmed by them. It’s not uncommon to be disconnected from your emotions — especially strong emotions like anger, fear, and sadness — because you may have learned to shut off your feelings. When you can feel your unpleasant emotions, you can better feel your pleasant emotions.
One warning I’ll issue is to not rely on your mind to think about your feelings as a way of interpreting them. Use your mind to be curious and consider what is beneath your emotional state, but not to interpret it. If you think about the feeling or emotion too much you can fall into judgement about it. That’s counter-productive. Your feelings are your feelings and don’t need justification. Let them be.
Now I’m going to twist that idea on its head. Yes, your feelings are real and nobody can take them away. But, they may not always serve you. For a better life, you want to know your feelings — your truth — and you do that by identifying them. And after you identify them you first take responsibility for them, and then you take appropriate action. Sometimes the appropriate action is to change your thinking about them, and to manage them. You can transform them into something more appropriate, an emotion that will better serve you.
When your feelings are too strong they can work against you in living the life you want. Emotions are an essential part of who you are, and they can be messy, complicated, and downright confusing sometimes. Knowing how to name them and talk about them — with both yourself and others — is a key part of developing emotional health.
Jim Collins is a student and teacher of what makes great companies tick, and an author of books about what makes companies great. His most recent book is BE 2.0 He’s not a business writer, though business is the focus of his research and work. He recognizes that businesses are run by people, so his research has taught him a lot about people and how they function. Jim says that humans don’t fundamentally operate at the level of thoughts and analysis: we fundamentally operate at the level of feelings.
The irony of this is that you can’t be rational if you are too emotional, but at the same time, you can’t be rational if you are not emotional. What would Mr. Spock have to say about that, I wonder?!
One of the lessons you’ll grasp as you learn to speak your truth is that your thoughts do have value — to you and to others. When you hold back from expressing your truth, you can lose the skill of sharing your thoughts, your feelings — yourself. When you hold back in expressing your truth, you forget how to put words to your feelings. Remember the bridge that connects your two brain hemispheres? The more you use it the bigger and stronger it is, and the faster the two halves communicate. If you have not been using that bridge, then it’ll take some practice to rebuild a fast and reliable connection.
There are a few steps you can take to connect with your feelings. Don’t dismiss this idea with the thought that you are a logical and practical person. You may be, but you’re fooling yourself if you think that logic and practicality aren’t influenced by feelings. And your feelings are connected to your physical sensations. Your feeling state is a physical experience happening in your body. When you bring your attention to the location in your body where you are experiencing a sensation, you are getting in touch with the feeling, and can deepen your emotional understanding of it and connection to it.
Why do you want to know your truth? To be resilient. To have a higher EQ. To make better decisions.
Now it’s time to learn How to know your feelings.
More thoughts on the subject (7:26 minutes):