Often we become our emotions, so full of whatever we are feeling; there is little or no room for anything other than the emotion. We indicate we have become our emotion when we use ‘to be’ verbs. For example, “I am so angry,” or “I am afraid,” imply you are your emotions not that there is a larger “you” experiencing them. “I feel angry,” allows a recognition of the emotion, and your ability to feel it fully while listening to what your anger, fear, or other emotion is telling you. By becoming aware of your emotions, you can also choose how you will respond as well as learn about your situation from seeing where your emotions are directing you to look. Here is a helpful story attributed to The Cherokee Nation,
A boy looked at his grandfather whose face was tight and tense. Seeing his grandfather was troubled, the boy asked, “What’s the matter, Grandfather?”
He replied, “There is a great war inside me.”
“A war?” the boy asked.
“Yes, between two large wolves. One is dark, stormy, and angry, expecting evil and trying to force me to strike out at others. The other wolf is bright, full of warmth, and light. He expects wonder and joy. He encourages me to give love to others.”
Now, greatly concerned, the boy asked, “Grandfather, which wolf will win?”
The man’s face brightened as he looked at his grandson and said, “Whichever one I feed.”
Before the grandfather can decide which wolf to feed, he must see the wolves. To be aware of our emotions allows us to be instructed by them without becoming them and then nurture the ones that are more life enriching. To help you call them by name, create a list of emotions so you will know them when you feel them.