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Why is it important to understand feelings?

How do you feel today? Happy? Sad? Excited? Sacred? Overwhelmed? Accepted? Powerful? Furious? Jealous? Energetic? Perplexed? Confused? So many emotions! How do you identify, accept and process these feelings especially when they drag you down? Arshi Alam, psychologist and Teen Counsellor at a prestigious Gurgaon School tells us the recipe. 

Hello, feelings 

All of us go through a lot of feelings throughout the day. Our mind and body are home to a good deal of emotions. Some stay on permanently while some keep coming like guests and others are also unwanted.  

Now even when unwelcome guests come, we still greet them, sit with them, offer them tea and coffee and be there during their visit. Don’t we? Because we never know how and when we might need them in life. It’s always good to stay connected.

The same logic works with our feelings. We need to connect to our feelings so that we can better understand them because these emotional guests are often reminders that our minds and body need attention. 

Are you low because you are hungry or scored low in your exams? Are you tired because of a hectic schedule or because you haven’t been sleeping enough? Do you feel like crying all the time because of your bodily changes or is it because of a situation at home? 

It is important to understand and label your emotions so that you can work towards managing your feelings in a way that allows you to function properly. 

How to understand your feelings?  

Engaging with your feelings will help you understand them better. Here are a few tips. 

  • Ask yourself – Do you notice a feeling at a particular time of the day? Is it at school? Is it at home? At a tuition class? It will help you understand the root cause of your feelings. 
  • Now be a bit creative and ask what your feelings look like. What colour, how big, does it have a voice, does it feel warm, cold, hot, or rough or smooth? This will allow you to gauge the intensity of your feelings. For example, a red and rough textured feeling may indicate to someone that the feeling they are having is intense and they need help. A blue and warm feeling may let you know that it will pass. These colours, their significance and intensities could be different for different folks. 
  • Depending on their intensity, you can work with some feelings on your own; if you are having a bad day at school and feeling lonely, you spend some time with your best friend during lunchtime. 

When to seek help

At times, some highly intense feelings decide to stay with us, and it is time to talk to someone trusted about it, and sometimes it can be a teacher, parent, or counsellor. Strong feelings like hopelessness, frustration, feeling inferior, terrified, and the like need to be addressed. These feelings might become very strong and interfere with our daily lives like school, home, relationships, etc. 

Here are some tips to overcome these overpowering feelings: 

  1. Look in the mirror and compliment yourself daily; start your day by feeling good about yourself. If something brings in feelings of inferiority, ask yourself, what are you good at? 
  2. Engaging in a calming activity, like dancing, painting, or talking to your parents, a teacher, a counsellor, or a friend, can help you with your mood, and you can think clearly. 
  3. Journaling about your day might also give you clarity and space to safely express your feelings. 
  4. Identifying where the feeling is strongest or heaviest in your body and shrugging it off sometimes helps you relax and think ahead. 

The underlying message that our feelings give us is to acknowledge them. Pause, reflect, and act. Start exploring your emotions today. 

Photo: Shutterstock/Rawpixel.com

Arshi Alam is a Psychologist and Teen Counsellor at a prestigious Gurgaon School. 

Have a query? Ask our experts! In this column, we take questions from adolescents and their parents on growing up, adolescence, puberty and everything in between; and put them to subject matter experts. 

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