Updated: Oct 20, 2018
Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves. There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul. Everyone carries a Shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. When an inner situation is not made conscious, it appears outside as fate.”
– Carl Jung
There are many benefits to becoming more aware of our own thoughts and emotions, especially when we struggle with anxiety. People who are self-aware are generally more introspective. They tend to evaluate their feelings, are eager to grow personally, and know that understanding themselves is the key to understanding others. Here are some tips on how to gain more insight into your life.
If you have ever snuggled with anxiety - or any type of uncontrollable feelings - someone may have told you at some point to “Start a daily journal. It will help you feel better.” Some people remain skeptical about writing their feelings down and wonder how journaling will help to change anything. The truth is, journaling is an ancient tradition that dates back to at least 10th century Japan. According to Psychcentral.com, the act of writing accesses your left brain, which is analytical and rational. While your left brain is occupied, your right brain is free to create and feel. Basically, writing removes mental blocks and allows you to use all of your brainpower to better understand yourself, others and the world around you.
Many people think there should be some sort of structure to ‘journaling’ when in fact, the most empowering journal entries I have written have been those without punctuation, awful spelling, and completely personal and honest. I suggest to start journaling today and write as often, or as little, as you can (it doesn’t have to be a ‘legit’ journal from Barnes & Noble either; just pick up a note-book from the dollar store and start writing!). In a month, go back and reread your past entries. You may be surprised what you learn about yourself. It is empowering!
Start a Thought/Emotion/Trigger (TET) Record (great for individuals with high anxiety)
So how is this different from journaling? Well think of this as a more in-depth look into your mind when anxious situations arise. Even doing this once helps you to become more aware of your thoughts versus feelings & helps to identify triggers and what situations may bring out feelings of anger, sadness, worry, jealousy, etc.
Concepts, notions, ideas are your thoughts about the subject or person. Thoughts are based on rules, beliefs, and judgments that we learn from others or personally invent. They are not necessarily based on fact.
There are no good or bad feelings. Feelings are not right or wrong. Feelings just are. Feelings just exist and need to be expressed in healthy ways. Feelings occur naturally and can manifest in your body as physical reactions as well (energetic, restless, tired, sleepy, & achy).
Feeling words commonly used:
Happy, Mad, Angry, Fearful, Lonely, Hurt, Sad, Glad, Jealous, Scared
Original Sentences with the Thought and a Feeling Added:
I think no one understands me, and I feel sad and fearful about misunderstandings.
I think I am doing more than my co-workers, and I feel devalued.
I think I am going crazy with all I have to do for work, family, and myself,and I feel stressed and frazzled.
Emotional triggers consist of thoughts, feelings, and events that seem to “trigger” an automatic response from us. The word “trigger” is important here, because the idea is that our reaction occurs automatically. It might seem as if the emotional reaction is completely involuntary. The truth is that this reaction, like everything else that we do, is a choice. Learning how to identify our personal emotional triggers is the first step to taking control over how we choose to respond (mindfulnessmuse.com, 2014).