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Observing Feelings

written by: Kosjenka Muk

At the root of much immature behavior is an urge to avoid unpleasant feelings. Practicing observing our feelings is the foundation of self-improvement - as well as being one of the most natural, simple and actually pleasant exercises of self-awareness. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is. You can practice this at any time, in most circumstances and situations. Not only you will not lose awareness of the world around you; it will probably improve.

Remember moments when you felt in great danger: probably you felt like time was running much slower, your focus sharpened and your actions became better coordinated. This is a spontaneous increase of awareness. We cannot stay in such a state for long, it is too tiring - but we can practice it consciously.

Just sit for 20 minutes a day and observe everything you feel, without analyzing, without focusing on isolated emotions. This is like standing in a river and feeling the flow, but not allowing the river to carry you away or trying to stop it. Try to go back to this awareness whenever you can during your daily tasks. With time, you will notice an increasing ability to recognize subtle emotional signals.

Such a simple exercise can have profound benefits:

  • intimacy with your own feelings and increased self-acceptance. Accepting your feelings results in less fear of unpleasant ones (since you can experience that you can cope with them better than you thought), and in integrating many sub-personalities into a balanced whole;

  • developing inner strength and trust in yourself; a feeling of peace and worthiness that can assist you when facing unpleasant social situations and makes it easier to cope with the most difficult emotional crises of your life;

  • functioning in the world with integrity, authenticity and centeredness, without pretense or exaggeration. Less need for masks and robotic conditioned reactions. This is the foundation of quality relationships and earning appreciation of emotionally mature people;

  • quickly recognizing and clearly expressing subtle feelings and needs in communication with other people, even in situations in which most people lose their centeredness and allow outer influences to govern their behavior;

  • recognizing subtle signals of other people through increased awareness of the details of mutual communication;

  • deeper presence and awareness of the now and greater ability to learn from each situation, thus using every moment in life to its fullest;

  • strengthening of intuition due to noticing and verbalizing subtle emotional signals;

  • increased creativity for the same reason as above;

  • increased ability to recognize and follow your physical needs (e.g. food, movement, rest, etc.), as well as to recognize the urge for specific activities, which can help you achieve a harmonious and fluid existence and an increase in productivity. When you listen to healthy messages of your body and feelings, it is hardly possible to be lazy! When I truly follow this principle, I often complete the greatest amount of work in the minimum amount of time, and even enjoy it. In contrast, rational self-control makes many types of work feel imposed or burdensome;

  • easier application of any method of self-improvement, through better introspection and increased consciousness. This is especially helpful with systems focused on exploring memories and subconscious mind;

  • increased self-honesty and dramatically reduced self-deception and thus unwanted behaviors;

  • ability to recognize and enjoy pleasant feelings. (The more we are aware of all our feelings, the more we are aware of the pleasant ones too. People who suppress their emotions and are hyper-rational, are rarely able to fully enjoy even their moments of happiness);

  • feeling independent of other people and circumstances; feeling better able to fulfill your needs within, instead of depending on others and projecting your responsibilities onto them.

The results are therefore worth the effort and time invested! You can start immediately without any foreknowledge or preparations. You do not need a specific space, equipment or setting - all you need is yourself and motivation for long-term daily practice.

"Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate." - C.G. Jung

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