I have been working on improving my emotional awareness for at least 6 years now. Progress has been slow, but I think that I have made at least some progress.
One thing I have been using recently to increase my awareness is my perception of other’s emotions. It is much easier for me to project emotions in other people than it is for me to observe emotions in myself. So when I’m talking to someone (this has happened a couple of times with coworkers this past week), and I think that I see an experience of “there’s something wrong” in them, I use that to check in with myself. I’ve found that when someone appears confused or worried about something suddenly in conversation, it can sometimes be in response to an emotional reaction that they had seen in me.
So far, this has been useful for me to have become aware of times where I was experiencing anxiety or frustration. My autopilot response to this awareness (and probably still even when I’m not aware) is to eliminate the source of my anxiety or frustration. But this is simply an attempt for me to regain control, and control is something I’m trying to let go of. So what I’ve been trying to do instead is to focus on how I can respond to the situation in a way that might influence it for the better, while at the same time, not letting go of my experience of the emotion.
But I can’t say this has been going great so far. I’ve recently reflected on my perception of time, and I often feel like time is happening very fast. I also feel like I have to respond to things very fast. (Maybe this is just another way my perfectionism shows up? Maybe this is just another indicator of how I am stressed?)
As the world happens to be, things rarely go exactly like I want them to, even when I try to influence these things. Because I’m now trying to stay with the emotion, but at the same time perceiving things (often that I don’t want to happen) to be coming at me very quickly, I find that my emotions fall into a positive feedback cycle. So if I was anxious about something before, I’m even more anxious now.
I think my work going forward, I will be trying a couple of things. First, I want to try to be more grounded in the present moment. I suspect that doing so can help me from falling into the perception that things are happening incredibly fast. Second, I want to continue try sticking with the emotion while try to influence the situation. Things aren’t always going to go as I want them to. But I think that rather than aiming for perfection, if I continue to practice sticking with the emotion, I will still be able to make progress.