Owning and Disowning Emotions + Bonus Prompts

Owning and Disowning Emotions + Bonus Prompts
Midjourney /imagine Emotional Spectrum Analysis --s 250 --niji 5 --seed 1296848139

Humans and beings. We are both. The "being" is more the identification with the spirit or essence of our existence, while the "human" aspect is our emotional connection that gives life depth and meaning. I find the interplay between these aspects fascinating.

So over the weekend, I took a deep dive with ChatGPT (the irony of discussing emotions with a robot is not lost on me) to try and identify emotions that I was not familiar with and also to better understand contrasting emotions as indicators of what might be lacking (e.g., doubt signifying a lack of confidence).

Here is how understanding emotions helps guide us.

Getting to Know You Ourselves

By understanding our feelings, we grow emotionally smarter. This leads to self-awareness (most days), self-control, motivation, empathy, and improved social skills. Recognizing what we feel helps us understand ourselves better, guiding our actions and thoughts. I mean, it’s really like remembering the name of the song you’ve been humming for the last week; once identified, the emotion becomes more accessible and understandable.

Building Strong Relationships

When we share our feelings, we make our relationships stronger. It’s true; when you’re safe and secure, there’s power (empowerment) in vulnerability. Honesty and understanding thrive, enabling others to comprehend what we are experiencing and how they can offer support.

Managing Emotions for Improved Mental Health

Identifying our emotions is the foundation for managing them effectively. Taking a moment to breathe and tune into our inner selves is critical. Expressing feelings, instead of suppressing them, positively impacts mental and physical health. Emotions like resentment and shame signal unresolved issues. While it’s unrealistic to resolve everything, gaining understanding can be valuable.

Opposite (Contrasting) Emotions Matter Too

Recognizing the role of contrasting emotions is an often overlooked component of emotional intelligence. Sometimes, we might find ourselves stuck in a pattern of negative or suppressed emotions, and identifying their opposites can be a valuable method to uncover what’s missing in our emotional repertoire.

Identifying Suppressed Emotions

Emotions expressed negatively or suppressed are termed “disowned” emotions. It doesn’t mean they’re bad, just not being heard (by us) or perhaps acknowledged. When we deny or suppress emotions, we may become trapped in cycles of emotional distress, manifesting as stress, anxiety, anger, or sadness. It often indicates that we are not fully acknowledging or understanding our emotional situation.

Using Opposites for Emotional Insight

However, these negative or disowned emotions can become tools for deeper emotional insight. If we delve into these feelings and try to pinpoint their opposites, we might gain insights into what’s missing in our emotional balance. For example, if we’re constantly feeling anxious and worried (disowned emotions), the lack of calm and peace (their opposites) may be what we’re missing. It may seem obvious now, but wait until you’re in the thick of it.

Restoring Emotional Balance

Once we identify the missing emotions, we can work towards integrating them into our emotional vocabulary. This might involve strategies such as shifting our perspective (a technique formally called ‘cognitive reappraisal’) - where we consciously challenge negative thought patterns and try to view situations from a new perspective, often with the help of the opposite emotion.

If we are constantly experiencing fear, for instance, we might try to cultivate a sense of safety or even excitement, assuming we can identify and resolve the source of fear. Getting there relies not only on emotion but also on understanding our goals.

Wheel of Fortunate Emotions

Dr. Robert Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions by Machine Elf 1735 - Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=13285286

A great tool for expanding your emotional vocabulary is the emotional spectrum wheel, also known as the “Feelings Wheel.” Have you heard of it? Although numerous versions are available today, the original concept was designed in 1980 by Dr. Gloria Willcox to aid in exploring and understanding emotions. The wheel beautifully illustrates the dynamic relationships among emotions, showing how they blend, intensify, or counteract each other.

Over the years, the Feelings Wheel has evolved considerably, becoming a more nuanced and detailed tool. Some contemporary versions feature over 200 discrete emotions. Each iteration of the wheel seeks to offer a more comprehensive map of the human emotional landscape.

Bonus Prompt: Emotional Analysis

Equipped with these tools, I turned to ChatGPT and asked about the great human experience in the form of prompts. Through our conversation, we created a practical guide that offers actionable steps for enhancing emotional intelligence and personal development, incorporating various psychological theories such as the James-Lange Theory, Cannon-Bard Theory, and Schachter-Singer Theory. I call it the Emotional Spectrum Analysis prompt.

The Emotional Analysis, prompt

Prompts to understand, manage, and enhance emotions using theoretical frameworks. 

Access this Prompt