In my previous blog post on our Emotional Content I explained a journaling exercise. The journaling exercise was asking us to write about an event, each day, writing in detail using all our senses to describe the moment. The week’s prompt included an important reminder that, as triggers to emotional memory, smell and taste are as important as sight and hearing. The writing exercise was “express your feelings about this event and how your sensory inputs and interactions with others made you feel”. This mindful journaling exercise occurred whilst I was preparing for a College inspection, working through some exams and completing external studies. Needless to say, I didn’t do each day but completed them on days where things felt they’d gone awry.
One day I realised I had written four pages and was even more unsettled by the experience. I still wasn’t able to identify the true emotions I was experiencing. I went on a hunt to try to find something to help.
Many theorists have suggested journaling to express views and sort out emotional baggage, including Carl Jung, James W Pennebaker and Julia Cameron. But I wanted more information on the emotions themselves and how to deal with them. Again, there are so many theorists, from Darwin and James-Lange to Cannon-Bard, Schachter-Singer and Fredickson.
So much out there; but I just wanted a simple list of emotions to at least identify what I was experiencing. One book that helped was The Sedona Method by Hale Dwoskin which has pages of positive and negative emotions to choose from. Then I found the following lovely table from Positive Psychology (https://positivepsychology.com/emotion-wheel/) that explains the joining of the emotions and how they work:
|Love||Joy + Trust||Remorse||Sadness + Disgust|
|Guilt||Joy + Fear||Envy||Sadness + Anger|
|Delight||Joy + Surprise||Pessimism||Sadness+Anticipation|
|Submission||Trust + Fear||Contempt||Disgust + Anger|
|Curiosity||Trust + Surprise||Cynicism||Disgust +Anticipation|
|Sentimentality||Trust + Sadness||Morbidness||Disgust + Joy|
|Awe||Fear + Surprise||Aggression||Anger + Anticipation|
|Despair||Fear + Sadness||Pride||Anger + Joy|
|Shame||Fear + Disgust||Dominance||Anger + Trust|
|Disappointment||Surprise+Sadness||Optimism||Anticipation + Joy|
|Outrage||Surprise + Anger||Anxiety||Anticipation + Fear|
This chart helped me understand the joining of primary emotions and helped me identify what I was feeling in certain situations. It allowed me to consider how I was expressing emotion and my actions based on different stimuli. It explained some of my reactions and helped me reflect on my behaviours (positive and negative). This is an ongoing process and I am still learning which are my triggers and what can be left behind. I’m still learning how to create good boundaries and how to move forward with acceptance.
By continuing with journaling I have been able to share my experiences in a stable and more balanced way with my husband. I have allowed myself to create the changes I need to self-improve and I feel I am empowered to share my emotions in a much more constructive way. It is a wonderful way to reflect and analyse my own emotional patterns to help meet any changes or challenges that are occurring.
Maintaining a mindfulness practice allows me to attend to my emotions, be curious and patient with them, learn to accept we have different emotions and change my emotions to other emotions.
Time to Have a Go!
Using your Journal (using pen and paper) take as much time as needed to look at a relationship issue. This could be related to work, a personal relationship, family, children, or anything else.
Remember your journal entries are private and the journal is a way to express your own feelings and problems without hurting anyone involved. As you write, you may be able to see the situation more objectively (after letting off steam), thus allowing you to pinpoint more accurately the reasons behind your anger, sadness, frustration, etc. When you are ready to have a conversation with the people involved you may be able to resolve them more easily.
Really take time to notice words you are using. Sometimes they are markers to deeper feelings within your subconscious. Highlight or underline words and feelings that seem to recur. Try to understand why these things are important to you.