Does this news surprise you?

Over the weekend I heard a podcast in which social scientist, Brene Brown, was describing her team’s research into the average person’s understanding of their own emotions.

Of the 100’s of distinct human emotions, they wanted to learn how many emotions people recognize when they are experiencing them.

They polled 7000 people and expected the average number of recognized emotions to be about 7 or 8.

What they found was that most people recognized only 3.

Happy, sad and pissed off.

This finding indicates how much of our complex emotional world we are unaware of or able to describe.

As surprising as this finding may be, it makes sense to me because in order to recognize the differences between emotions, we have to feel them.

And we have never been encouraged to do this. No one has taught us how.

Emotions are sensations in our bodies and so feeling an emotion means noticing the physical-like qualities it has.

Is this feeling a tightness in my belly? Is it a heavy pressure in my chest? Does this feeling buzz? Is it stationary or does it move? Is the quality of this feeling soft and squishy or something entirely different?

As I learned to feel my own feelings, I discovered a great surprise.

By being actively curious about the qualities of an uncomfortable emotion, those very qualities would start to change. The pressure would release, the hardness would soften, the movement would still. My simple presence to the qualities of a feeling would change the feeling.

I learned that as I would feel a feeling, I would heal that feeling.

Our emotions are made of our own energy and they are safe to feel. And as we learn to do this, we start to gain the knowledge and power to influence them.

This week in my online community we are testing the notion that it is safe and healthy to feel our emotions. If you aren't already in there, you are welcome to join us!