When did you last check your Emotional Temperature? – Dr. Sunayana Nandagopal

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When did you last check your Emotional Temperature? – Dr. Sunayana Nandagopal

When was the last time you had your temperature taken? This would have been a weird question to ask someone in 2019, however, not a very weird thing to ask in 2020! In our current, pandemic-hit world, many of us have our temperatures taken more frequently, maybe at work or at a mall.

But what about your emotional temperature, when did you last check that? When did you last pause and think about what is cooking beneath the surface? In our busy lives, we incorrectly assume that what we feel is what we are consciously aware of. However, to truly listen to our emotions we need to honestly listen to ourselves. Unfortunately, most of us do very little of this. We try to check in to see if our family and friends are doing ok, but rarely do we check in with ourselves. In fact, now more than ever, we need to focus on ourselves and to connect with ourselves. All of us have had to adapt very quickly to the changes around us during the past year and many of us are more anxious than ever. A lot of what we are feeling is a result of our thinking. Changing our perceptions starts with us.

So how do you check your emotional temperature?

First, pause.
And, switch off the autopilot on how you think and act. Sounds like an easy first step, but how many of us actually do this? We live in an age of distraction, we drown out the beautiful moments of our lives, we let the present slip away, we rush and ignore what we are truly feeling. Instead, of being trapped in our thoughts about the future or our past, we need be aware of the NOW and actually FEEL our feelings. Tune in your emotions.

Second, ask yourself questions about how you are feeling.

Sounds simple, right? It really isn’t. After we try doing this, we realize that we often resist our own probing. We may feel embarrassed or uncomfortable doing this but keep on probing. Try reflecting on these questions during your pause.

• What feelings am I aware of having?
• How intense are these feelings on a scale of 1 to 10?
• Which is the most prominent feeling?
• When did I become aware of this feeling?
• Does this emotion transform into another emotion?

These questions help us clearly notice the red flags that are trying to warn us. Ignoring these red flags leads to stress, fatigue and a lack of well-being. Notice your emotions while you try to answer these questions, both the good and the bad. Remember, there are no right or wrong answers.

Third, do not judge these feelings. Get curious instead.
Get inquisitive, talk to yourself as if you would with a friend. Be aware of what you are feeling, the good, and the bad. Try to probe your way to the root of these feelings. Moreover, don’t forget to be non-judgmental about your own feelings. Try getting to know them, where they are coming from, and what they are.

Finally, let the emotions flow through you.
Instead of struggling with your feelings, get in touch with yourself, be fully aware and accepting of what you are feeling, the good and the bad. Be brave and scratch beneath the surface.

Why should we check our emotional temperature? Quite simply, to not magnify, to not mislabel, to not overreact and to not catastrophize. Irrational thoughts can occur from time to time and they most frequently occur when we are not truly in touch with ourselves. Many of us magnify our problems and make them bigger than they are. We also sometimes mislabel our emotions and some of us catastrophize and predict the worst possible outcomes. Checking our emotional temperature can help us recognize these irrational thoughts. It helps us pause and focus on our reactions and help spot those red flags. Being realistically aware of what we are feeling stops us from amplifying what we are going through.

Like developing any new skill, checking your emotional temperature needs some time, effort, practice and consistency. It requires you to stop superficially connecting with the moment. It requires you to be honest with yourself. Take some time every day, to be your own friend.

By Dr. Sunayana Nandagopal


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