There certainly are times in my life when I have NOT felt free to choose. At times, when circumstances seemed bigger than me or when I felt like a victim, I have unfortunately reacted instead of choosing. I’m grateful for mentors and resources that have helped me learn and grow in ways that have empowered me to understand and use my agency more wisely.
One way I struggled to claim my power to choose in the past was by not being aware of my thoughts and feelings. Life coach and podcaster Amie Woolsey shares how important it is to FEEL our feelings. “We have an epidemic of humans on this earth not feeling.” She explains that humans tend to avoid, resist, or react to emotions rather than feeling them. This leads to turning to other things like media, food, or harmful substances or behaviors to “numb out.” This choice to avoid our feelings can limit or restrict future choices. We choose to be acted upon by our emotions.
On the other hand, the choice to feel our feelings leads to a much different trajectory. When we validate and are aware of and curious about what we are feeling and why we might be feeling that way, it leads to much greater awareness of our own thoughts and beliefs. This increased awareness broadens our future choices.
Woolsey teaches, “You are the creator of your life, and that’s an incredible gift, an incredible power….We are either acting or being acted upon. That applies to our emotions. We are either in charge and choosing our emotions or we are letting those emotions and thoughts act upon us. We [can practice] paying attention to our thoughts, being curious about our thoughts, being aware of our emotions, accepting them … and then making a decision about whether we want to stay thinking and feeling this way or not.”
Woolsey encourages us to ask the question, “Do I like feeling this way?” If not, we have the capacity to change it. That is a powerful choice!
Choosing to become wiser about our thoughts and feelings will increase our capacity to process challenging emotions and situations, to connect to our true self and higher power, and to connect to joy. These positive consequences are not possible when we choose to avoid, resist, or react to our emotions.
Emotion wheels are a great way to increase our emotional intelligence as we choose to feel our feelings. They can help us identify how we are feeling and give the emotion a name. They can be very simple, identifying emotions with pictures of faces. They can also be more advanced, beginning at the center with basic emotions and extending outwards with more precise emotions. The more accurately we can describe our feelings, the more effectively we can be at identifying the thoughts or beliefs that led to the emotion.
Whether we are old or young, struggling with our own emotions or desiring to help those we love with emotional skills, increasing our awareness and giving names to our feelings is a great place to start. Woolsey encourages us with the reminder that feeling our feelings is a skill that can be learned, and that skill increases with practice. One step at a time we can choose to be in touch with our feelings and be blessed because of that choice.
For more information, listen to the podcast with Amie Woolsey.
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