Increasing Your Emotional Awareness

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Increasing Your Emotional Awareness

A dear friend of mine said to me once, “you know what I need before I do”.

Being sensitive to emotions and subtle language cues is not something I was born doing. In my mid-twenties I was oblivious to my own anger. I mean, really oblivious. I had anger in the “bad, very bad” category and was exceptional at suppressing my own - from others but from me too.

Following a number of very unpleasant wake-up calls, I started the healing journey that opened the way for me to feel more and notice more.

My kids might not believe this but there was a day when I had to learn how to cry again. (For that story you’d have to buy me a glass of wine or a good coffee!)

As I learn more about emotional intelligence it amazes me how much is tied to our own emotional awareness.

How can we turn up the volume on our own emotional awareness?

First of all, let’s be clear, this will mean feeling the yucky stuff more. Yup. So why would you want to do this then?

It means you get to …

• turn up the volume on feeling the good stuff too

• it improves your early warning system

• improves your ability to notice changes in others

• gives you a chance to detox your emotions more effectively

• let’s you make healthier choices around food, exercise, relationships

• improves communication with others, be that in sales, conflict or love

That’s a lot of benefit.

There is probably a way to disable the low fuel light in my car. Why would I want to do that? Perhaps I could argue that I don’t like seeing that light. That would be ridiculous. The slight discomfort (or large discomfort in some situations) is meant to be there. Running out of gas is very unpleasant!

With our emotional warning system we all have practiced ignoring or minimizing it. It’s like putting duct tape over the little red light on your dash.

We minimize our signals for lots of reasons:

• I don’t want to admit what I think might be happening because it would be painful

• Right now I don’t have the energy to feel worse, I’m burned out

• Perhaps I’m making too much of this and if I ignore it, it will get better

• Being responsible for blowing something up is really uncomfortable

• We don’t trust ourselves to be able to handle the truth effectively

When my low fuel light comes on I get pretty focused. Where is the next gas station and how long will it take me to get there?

What if instead of worrying about all the possible implications and reasons for not paying attention to our niggling little emotional warnings, we simply had one next step?

Perhaps to increase the effectiveness of your emotional awareness you name the subtle feeling that you are good at minimizing. Then you name the more effective way you will acknowledge it.

Here is an example:

When I notice that I want to eat a big bowl of something crunchy in the evening I will admit that it is tied to an emotional trigger. I’m going to get out a paper and write down the emotional highlights and low lights from my day.

Yours might look totally different.

When do you tend to ignore or minimize emotional signals?

What practice can help you pay more attention to them?

Until next time,


Marilyn Orr, CEC, PCC is an executive and leadership coach with Capacity Building Coaching, and training partner on EQ-i 2.0 with MHS. She is also co-owner of new Texas Hill Country eco event center and wellness retreat, The Cedars Ranch.

Marilyn is running a 2-day training course this March for professionals wishing to become certified in administering the EQ-i 2.0 and EQ 360 tool. The certification program is being held March 19 - 20 at The Cedars Ranch, Wimberley. Register Today!

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