Do you feel as though you don’t understand your friends’ emotions?  Is it difficult to relate to people who regularly express how they feel? If so, you’re not alone. Many people find it difficult to verbalize how they are feeling.  As an Atlanta therapist who works with high achievers, I see this frequently.

What Are The Different Emotions?

Here’s a list of common emotions that can be visited. Some even theorize that other emotions can stem from some of these listed below:

  • Joy
  • Sadness
  • Disgust
  • Fear
  • Surprise
  • Anger (Some people believe that anger is a secondary emotion that shows up to protect a more vulnerable emotion)
  • Guilt/Shame

When a person shows one of the first 5 emotions listed, we can universally recognize it in their facial expression.  It looks the same across cultures and helps facilitate empathy and connection.

Mirror Neurons

Understanding and identifying our own emotion helps us connect to others.  In the 1990’s, scientists discovered Mirror Neurons.  These are neurons that fire in response to someone else’s experience and may be the building blocks for empathy. 

When I see sadness on your face, I begin to mirror it and connect to something in myself that helps me empathize with you.  When you stub your toe, my mirror neurons fire and I wince. When you yawn, I yawn. 

However, if I don’t recognize the emotions going on inside of me, it’s hard for me to look at you and connect with your experience. 

When we do our own work on identifying and managing our own emotions, we position ourselves to have better relationships with others.

How Do I Know What I’m Feeling?

With several core emotions and many secondary emotions, it can be hard to figure out what you’re feeling. A feelings list can help to give language to the emotions we experience (there are all kinds on the internet). 

When we identify what we are feeling and can connect that feeling to what triggered it, we become better informed about our boundaries and our needs. 

For example, if you have a dinner date with a friend and they no show or are seriously late, you may find yourself getting angry.  If you look at a feelings list, you might start to recognize that anger might be masking:

  • Hurt or frustration that your friend didn’t show up
  • Feeling foolish or embarrassed for sitting alone waiting for your friend
  • Anxiety because you are taking up a table when there are people waiting for a table
  • Disrespected because your friend isn’t considering your time

If you can trace your anger to one of these specific emotions and root causes, you can start to set boundaries with your friend that will allow you to feel respected and more at peace.

Emotions can be tricky and elusive.  Sometimes we stuff them as a coping mechanism, but they always leak out somewhere.  Wherever you find yourself, this Atlanta therapist who works with high achievers understands.  Call today to meet with someone who can help.