Surfing the Waves ... of Emotions

be less stressed Sep 17, 2019

Surfing the Waves ... of Emotions


September 17, 2019 

Last week it was my honor and privilege to speak to a Leadership Group and assist them in discovering their unique 4-Letter Personality Type and learn the stress reduction practices we use in the From Stressed to Best™ Program. Thank you, Class of 2020 Leadership Ottawa County – you were engaged, open-minded – and very fun.  You are already leaders. 

You inspired me to go deeper. Jon Kabat-Zinn’s metaphor, “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn how to surf,” applies to both our behaviors when we are stressed and the waves of emotions that can engulf us in times of stress. 

Our focus in this newsletter is to add a new exercise -- awareness of negative emotions --  and how we can use our “Emotional Intelligence” to move to a better place.   

For readers who may have joined recently, I am including links to the 9 Blogs posted over the past year with a focus on tips for stress reduction.  

Awareness of Our EMOTIONS: A New Exercise 

This new exercise has 2 parts. First, choose 3 emotions that you typically feel when you are stressed. Second, choose 1-3 emotions which you will transition to, when you hit the pause button.  

It can be a challenge to identify the emotions we are feeling – particularly when we are stressed.  I am not facile at describing my emotions. When someone asks me  “What are you feeling?” --  I will often shrug my shoulders and look to buy some time to search for the right word. To help us get started, here is a reference list of 73 emotions and feelings, from Davidji’s book, Destressifying, pages 157-158 in the section, “Emotional Awareness.” This list of 73 different emotions is not intended to be comprehensive. However, it is a great start! 

Davidji writes:

“Familiarizing yourself with the vast range of your emotional expression is paramount to cultivating your emotional intelligence. 

  1. Affection
  2. Anger
  3. Angst
  4. Anguish
  5. Annoyance
  6. Anxiety
  7. Apathy
  8. Arousal
  9. Awe
  10. Boredom
  11. Confidence
  12. Contempt
  13. Contentment
  14. Courage
  15. Curiosity
  16. Depression
  17. Desire
  18. Despair
  19. Disappointment
  20. Disgust
  21. Distrust
  22. Dread
  23. Ecstasy
  24. Embarrassment
  25. Envy
  26. Euphoria
  27. Excitement
  28. Fear
  29. Frustration
  30. Gratitude
  31. Grief
  32. Guilt
  33. Happiness
  34. Hatred
  35. Hope
  36. Horror
  37. Hostility
  38. Hurt
  39. Hysteria
  40. Indifference
  41. Interest
  42. Jealousy
  43. Joy
  44. Loathing
  45. Loneliness
  46. Love
  47. Lust
  48. Outrage
  49. Panic
  50. Passion
  51. Pity
  52. Pleasure
  53. Pride
  54. Rage
  55. Regret
  56. Relief
  57. Remorse
  58. Sadness
  59. Satisfaction
  60. Schadenfreude
  61. Self-confidence
  62. Shame
  63. Shock
  64. Shyness
  65. Sorrow
  66. Suffering
  67. Surprise
  68. Terror
  69. Trust
  70. Wonder
  71. Worry
  72. Zeal
  73. Zest

Can you imagine all the chemicals, hormones, and neurotransmitters that are surging through you as you read each word?” 

I have taken the liberty of re-formatting the emotions, detailed in paragraph form on page 158, to a list because it allows space to pause at each expression of each emotion and recall a memory. It’s an amazing list – would you agree? [Ed. Note: Perhaps the feeling "schadenfreude" jumped out at you. I know I had to look it up." FYI, it means pleasure derived by someone from another person's misfortune."]  

What are your 3 primary negative emotions when you are in your Stress Mode? Mine are Anger; Defensiveness; and Insecurity.  Oops – you may have noticed -- I added 2 new words, my own words, to the list.  Please feel free to add your own words. 

The 2nd part of this new exercise: Choose to become an observer of your emotions – observe rather than judge your emotional reaction. It is not about suppressing or ignoring or judging your emotional reaction. Allow it. Observe it. Now that we have hit the pause button, choose a transition emotion – perhaps you will choose to be curious or surprised. You might say “Wow—where did that come from?" or "Really... what is going on here?" 

Now, doing your deep diaphragmatic breathing…. let the negative emotions go and shift to your Best Mode.  

Perhaps you are thinking, “That is easier said than done.”  Fortunately, there are a variety of tools available to us all.  

I am a big fan of Daniel Goleman and the concept of Emotional Intelligence. Side-bar: I was first introduced to the work of Daniel Goleman soon after the publication of his groundbreaking best-selling book, Emotional Intelligence. In fact, the professional development/psychologist working with our senior management team on the trading floor of a global investment bank, personally gifted each of us Goleman’s book. I suspect the implicit message was that, without singling out any one individual, as a team, we demonstrated very low Emotional Intelligence (EI) scores. Personally, I remember being surprised that I was part of a triangular manipulation between the head of the Trading desk and the head of the Syndicate desk.  Gosh – was I unaware!

The five core elements of Emotional Intelligence are well-known: self-awareness; self-regulation; motivation; empathy; and social skills. The wonderful thing is that Emotional Intelligence can be learned and cultivated. 

I highly recommend Emotional Intelligence by Goleman, Primal Leadership: Unleashing the Power of Emotional Intelligence by Goleman, Boyatzis and McKee, and Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence by Goleman.  

If you would like to go deeper, there is a free on-line quiz provided by the Institute for Health and Human Potential: Free EI Quiz by IHHP. The Quiz is only 17 questions and is one of 4 tools vetted by The Harvard Business Review for assessing Emotional Intelligence. 

In addition, there are a variety of meditations available to support you in letting go of negative emotions. Remember: neurons that fire together, wire together. In past Blogs on letting go, I have shared several meditations which in my opinion, are particularly well done. Here are 2 more meditations focused on release of negative feelings and emotions which I have found valuable. 

  1. This is a 1-minute meditation by Chris Flack: Closed Fist or Open Hand. The reason I like this meditation is because it is short – and I can feel the effect of letting go when I clench my fists and then open my hand.
  2. This is a 20-minute meditation by Tomek Wyczesany: Emotional Cleansing. The reason I like this meditation is because the guided visualization invites you to put all your emotions into an “energy conversion box”, say thank you, and then release that which no longer serves you.  

I trust adding the element of the emotional waves and how to manage shifts in our behavior and feelings will prove helpful and add to your tool kit for reducing stress in your daily life. 

For ease of reference, here are the links to previous Blogs which support our understanding of different emotions as well as various resources and programs for stress reduction. 

Over the past year we have focused on emotions such as Grief, Courage, Hope, Gratitude, and Laughter.

We have also reviewed 4-Step programs such as  “Destressify” by Davidji and the “From Stressed to Best Framework” I teach, created by Ruth E. Schneider and David S. Prudhomme, using 4-Letter Personality Type (MBTI®). 

Till next time


May you be happy now and always, Alison 

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