How to get clarity about your feelings

· First step: Understand what it is that you feel ·

How to get clarity about your feelings

End of 2015 I moved back to Germany. You may wonder, what's the deal? For me it was a big deal! After living abroad for 17 years, I returned to my home town that I left 20 years ago! My life was a rollercoaster of emotions! I was upset. I was angry. I was excited. I was anxious. I was worried. I was in a good mood and in a bad mood within minutes. I was irritated. I was motivated. Next day I was demotivated. But most of all, I was depressed. I thought my life was over.

Back then I did a lot of research on feelings and emotions. I tried to understand what is wrong with me! How can someone have so many feelings all at once?

Interesting enough, there are only four feelings that you can experience: Anger. Fear. Sadness. Happiness. But they all come in fifty shades…

Although society taught us that most of these feelings are negative, they are actually really helpful in understanding ourselves better.

So lets look at them in a bit more detail.

What is anger?


When you feel angry, someone might have upset you. Or you simply are in a bad mood. Or you feel impatient. Or you want to yell fu#$ing shit! Or you feel on edge.

We think, people who are angry, are not nice people. They are chaotic and aggressive. But what if anger actually helps you to get clarity? Or helps you to set borders, make decisions, defend us or others or clearly say yes or no to something. All of a sudden, anger becomes something positive.

What is sadness?FEELING SADNESS

When you feel sad, someone might have disappointed you. You are not in the mood for doing something that you usually enjoy. You might be teary and just feel like curling up in a ball and hide in bed.

Feeling sad is negative, because it makes you look weak or emotional. But what if sadness actually helps you to feel empathy, to say good-bye to something or someone or simply to reflect on a certain situation. All of a sudden, sadness becomes something positive.

What is fear?FEELING FEAR

When you feel fearful, you are insecure. You are anxious. Or you are afraid of something. You worry to much. You have a funny gut feeling about something.

The worst about fear is that it paralyses you. It stops you from stepping out of your comfort zone. But still fear is useful. It helps you to smell danger. It helps you to identify your growth zone. It supports you to be concentrated. Looking at fear from this angle, it’s not so bad after all.

What is happiness?FEELING HAPPINESS

How about happiness? If you feel happy, you are content. You feel motivated. You are in a good mood and you think you can reach the stars.

So happiness seems to be something positive. Is it? You could also come across as arrogant or naive. Or maybe people think you escape from reality. The best thing about happiness is that it helps you to reach your goals. It helps you to stay focussed and optimistic. It makes you content.

Is it that simple though to identify what you feel?

To answer this, you need to understand that what we feel is often a mix of sadness, anger, happiness and fear. If you feel depressed, it’s usually because you are angry and sad about something. If you are reckless you combine happiness and fear! If you feel angry and fearful, you might come across as hysterical. And if you are sad and happy at the same time, you feel melancholic. And usually, if your daily life is occupied by all four feelings at the same time, you are most likely close to a burnout! 

So what to do now with these feelings? 

Life is hectic. We rush from one appointment to the other. We don’t pause and listen to our feelings. A lot of times, we numb them with alcohol, cigarettes, with retail therapy. We have lost touch with ourselves. If we suppress our feelings, they are finding a way to emerge from our subconscious mind. For example you may not realise that you are angry. But anger can appear in form of sarcasm or teasing! Hi there anger! Who would have thought?

You can keep ignoring what you feel, or you start dealing with it. Journaling helped me a lot. Whenever I felt something I sat in a quiet room and asked myself “I feel sad, angry, fearful, because…” and I simply wrote down what came to my mind. And you may be surprised about the answers you get. Here are some more tips on how to start your journaling session.

Now, over to you. What are your tricks to help you understand your feelings?

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