HJ: Our emotions are natural expressions of our being and can lead us to important insights about our life and beliefs that ultimately have the potential to positively change how we see ourselves and the world around us. This goes for both ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ emotions — therefore, it is vitally important not to deny or repress them in any way. Below, you will find a simple, but powerful methodology for working with your emotions, understanding them and ultimately shifting those which you wish to change. It is perfectly normal to have ‘negative’ emotions and want to shift them into more positive territory, however, there is a way to do this which does not cause you to repress or deny them and this is what is presented below. This is a useful skill for anyone looking to expand and raise their conscious awareness.
Shift Your Emotions
People can avoid these common emotional traps and improve your emotional health, attitudes, and self-esteem. One method of shifting emotion is called the BARES model:
Be aware of all your emotions
Accept them all without judgment
Recognize that you control your attitudes and behaviors
Express true emotions
Shift negative emotions consciously
You can try these BARES steps:
Be aware of all your emotions.
The first step is bringing your feelings, emotional experiences, and attitudes into conscious awareness, recognizing them, and accepting their existence without judgment.
Are you aware of your feelings? What are you feeling right now?
You can bring more awareness to your feelings by consciously focusing on how you feel, and intentionally observing your body and your breath. Take a moment several times a day to stop and check in with how you are feeling.
Self-reflection is also an important part of becoming aware of your emotions. There are many techniques for self-reflection such as journaling, meditating, and writing down your dreams. Expressive activities such as art and dance can also put you in touch with emotions that you might not be aware of consciously.
Accept all emotions without judgment.
As children we expressed the full range of our human experience without suppressing or denying any emotions until we were taught to repress them. If we are to have the richest experience of our life as adults, we must return to acknowledging the full range of human emotions.
Are you equally accepting of feeling joy and sorrow, fear and curiosity, anger and forgiveness? If you could use some help in this area, explore some practical suggestions for working with your emotions.
Acceptance begins when you give yourself permission to honestly acknowledge what you feel, without judgment or censure. Practice by telling a close friend or support person how you feel and ask them for feedback.
For example, if you have difficulty expressing anger, identify scenarios in which anger arises and play-act these with a support person to explore appropriate expressions of anger.
Recognize that you control your attitudes and behaviors.
It is important to know that you control your attitudes and behaviors, as well as the expression of your emotions. You have the power to make conscious choices in your attitudes and behaviors. This includes nurturing a foundation of healthy self-esteem, based on honesty and compassion.
Consider some questions to help assess your awareness of your attitudes.
- Are you aware of attitudes and beliefs that are limiting in your life?
- Can you identify choices you are making in your expression of emotions and your behaviors?
- Are these choices optimal for you?
- Are they leading to your own health and happiness?
- Do the people in your life promote positive thoughts or do they reinforce your negative limiting beliefs?
- Do you believe in yourself in a supportive way?
Express true emotions.
Learning to honestly express your true emotions and attitudes in a way that is self-responsible and respectful of others is essential for your own health. Our emotions and our behavior must align, or we become frustrated or suppressed. We need to learn to adjust the expression of our emotions to fit the circumstance, based upon our own sense of comfort and integrity in the moment—not based upon old messages of how we “should” be from our past.
True understanding comes when people in relationship can honestly use feelings as guideposts to growth. Negative emotions are a real opportunity to enhance self-understanding. These emotions are not harmful if expressed appropriately, in a timely way, and released. It is just as important to express the positive emotions, and not minimize or subsume them. Consider some practical suggestions for emotional self-responsibility.
Shift emotions consciously.
Once you recognize an emotion you are feeling, you may decide that this particular emotion isn’t helpful for you in that moment or circumstance. This is not to deny an emotion or to avoid processing it later, if necessary. Rather, it’s about making a conscious decision to shift your feeling state.
Positive feeling states are associated with healthier bodies, improved thinking, and enhanced decision-making capabilities. Intentionally invoking a positive feeling state can enhance our ability to function in our lives. On the other hand, when we are negative, frustrated, or angry, we tend to lose focus and become less effective.
How do you shift to a more positive state? It involves actually re-experiencing a positive feeling state and experiencing it in your body (not just visualizing it or talking about it). In less than a minute, you can shift an emotion, change your physiology, and become more effective and happier. Your body is capable of responding in just a few breaths.
A study conducted by the Institute of HeartMath examined the impact of positive emotions on physical and mental functioning. The Institute asserts that our capacity to self-generate a positive emotional state and quickly shift to a physiologically coherent mode at will can be developed and refined. Physiological coherence is a natural human state that can occur spontaneously during positive emotional experiences and sleep, but sustained episodes are generally rare. Using positive emotion to drive the coherent mode allows it to emerge naturally, which makes it easier to sustain this positive state for longer periods, even during work and other activities (Child, 1994; McCraty, 2000; Paddision, 1992).