Our emotional state plays a significant role in shaping the feelings and thoughts we experience.

These thoughts and feelings contribute to our unique understanding of the world, and by integrating them into our personal narrative, we can cultivate a richer, more nuanced perspective on reality.

While we should examine our thoughts to understand them and ultimately ourselves, we also need to feel any unfelt emotions that may be driving us subconsciously so that we can ultimately release them and write our story in a conscious way.

Emotions are irrational and can lead us to assumptions about ourselves and the world that are not useful if we don’t take the time to understand them.

Hypothetical Example

I’m getting ready to make a speech in front of a large audience.

Before I go on stage, I begin to experience an emotional response of a higher heart rate, a release of cortisol, and the general activation of my fight-or-flight response of the limbic system.

In my mind, I internalize this emotion by feeling it — associating a feeling to the emotional response. I begin to feel fear and anxiety associated with giving a speech.

My rational brain tries to interpret what is happening and begins to have thoughts such as:

I’m feeling nervous. I must be nervous because I’m worried about messing up. I’m worried about messing up because I know I’m not that good or don’t have as much expertise in the subject I’m about to give a speech on (impostor syndrome).

What if they find out I’m an idiot?

There are a lot of other smarter people than me. Why should I be presenting right now?

This recursive thought spiral can in-turn cause more emotional responses and feelings such as feeling a fear of abandonment of my social status or relationships if I don’t perform well.

This cascade of emotions and feelings needs to be felt. They will come in waves and as long as I let them pass, they will pass.

After I get past my emotional response, I can begin to see that the thoughts I’m having are not valid. In fact, the feeling of excitement has the exact same emotional state as anxiety: higher heart rate, cortisol, etc.

Feeling the feelings, validating them, and understanding that our thoughts are irrational in an emotional state yields understanding.

I can then move past the emotional response and begin to give my speech feeling excited rather than anxious.