Dedicated to Bringing Emotional Knowledge into the Public Domain FREE of Charge
Discover the empowerment of Mindfulness in collaboration with Emotional Awareness.
So many of us get tangled up in overwhelming and powerful emotional states that leave us feeling out of control and not in charge of our own lives.
This book is designed to tackle exactly this problem!
Change Negative Emotions into Positive Experiences!
Turn Life problems into Challenges & Challenges into Opportunities!
Manage Challenging Emotions Differently!
Build Emotional Resilience and Durability!
In Mindfulness meets Emotional Awareness I have taken the most common but challenging emotions, explained (without jargon!) why we need these emotions and more importantly, how to use them as an ally in navigating our way to a thriving and successful life”
Using a formula of 7 days of reading, 20 minutes each day, even the busiest of people can make time to empower, enhance and enrich the quality of their daily lives through the empowerment of emotional literacy.
Each chapter concludes with pragmatic invitations and exercises that are designed to integrate and expand emotional knowledge and awareness into everyday real-life situations.
Mindfulness Meets Emotional Awareness
7 Steps to Learn the Language of Your Emotions
I wrote this book to create Real Change in Real Lives...
Dr David Hemery CBE DL, Olympic Gold Medalist hurdling champion,
Coach, teacher, author and founder of the Charity for schools, 21st Century Legacy and
the ‘Be the Best you can Be!’ programme. www.21stcenturylegacy.com
"What a wealth of insights Jenny’s book provides on the impact of emotions, on our lives and choices.
For years I have been advocating the positive significance of questions that generate greater self-awareness and self-responsibility.
You can’t determine what life throws at you,
your choice is how you react.
Awareness is the key to making wiser decisions."
"Jenny provides illustration and insights which help provide new ways of seeing and handling emotional challenges. She has broken down the huge area into themes and within these provided useful guidelines and understanding. It is only when delving deeply and with honesty, into our own way of being that we can gain the value of choosing to modify our perspectives and/or behavior.
Emotion can be read as e-motion - energy in motion. Jenny asks us to notice the difference in our energy with positive or negative focus on ourselves. She asks us to listen to our heart and our gut. How well do we truly listen to ourselves, as well as others?
It is a book well worth our engagement – a truly helpful addition to awareness."
"Jenny has developed a way of writing about the whole complexity of the mixture of our emotions with a simplicity and understanding that both professionals and layperson can follow. A'MUST READ' for anyone who wants to gain a greater understanding of themselves and the way that they respond to the challenges of living their lives in fullness."
"A step by step , low technology , high impact, guide to emotional awareness. This lovely book takes the reader on a profound journey, the steps are clear and the processes simple.
A significant resource that really creates the opportunity for self-development and growth.
I read it as a resource for others but found the content and language engaging and relevant enough to prompt my own personal review. Thank you."
Wow! This book is simply jam-packed with gems of wisdom from an author who is gladly sharing her wealth of cumulative knowledge and experience from a combination of her professional and personal life so that we may all benefit. In my opinion, this book has the potential to have a profound effect on individuals, families, communities, countries and if shared and read far and wide enough it could help begin to heal the world.
As I read through the bite sized sections, each dealing with the different challenging emotions we all experience as human beings, I felt the book had been written about me! There were so many insights and descriptions of how I have felt at various stages of my life, that I was literally hooked from start to finish and can’t wait to go back and read it all again! In truth, the beauty of this book is that I believe anyone reading it will feel the same way because my emotional responses to certain circumstances were indeed normal human responses which everyone can relate to. This book educates and inspires by challenging us to reflect and evaluate how we listen to and respond to our challenging emotions so we can learn and grow. If we all engaged with the ideas suggested by the author and educated our children to do likewise, the ripple effect and positive outcomes would be life-enhancing for everyone.
This book is a wonderful toolkit for navigating our everyday lives with the confidence that no matter what challenges and subsequent emotions surface, we will approach them with a renewed understanding and begin to interpret the information they provide in order for us to respond in a mindful way.
The accompanying free audio resources available from the author’s free library are also a fantastic bonus.
This is a must read for everyone. I can’t recommend it highly enough!"
This is another empowering and interesting book from Jenny Florence, author of: No.1 best seller: 7 Steps to Spiritual Empathy, which I really benefited from.
This new book shows how our emotions are always in play and chapter after chapter gives us an opportunity to recognize our subtle feelings that can inhibit our lives.
Jenny writes with clarity and demonstrates how to process and break free of negative feelings, turning them into positives. An absolute delight to read.
Jenny Florence has shone a light on aspects of myself that I had never considered. It has made me reconsider myself in a more positive way.
I could continue to elaborate but I will just state, my outlook and how I feel have been changed by reading a potentially life changing book.
“In the last decade or so, science has discovered a tremendous amount about the role that emotions play in our lives. Researchers have found that even more than IQ, your emotional awareness and abilities to handle feelings will determine your success and happiness in all walks of life, including family relationships.”
John Gottman (b. 1942), Professor Emeritus in Psychology
The Collaboration of Mindfulness and Emotional Awareness
Few of us, if any at all, will experience a lifetime of ongoing contentment and blissful harmony, without any ups and downs or life challenges. Indeed, we wouldn’t be human if we did.
In truth, it is frequently our greatest challenges in life that ultimately bring us our greatest moments of growth and learning. It is often adversity that propels us to greater levels of awareness and solidifies the formation of our core inner values, supporting a true appreciation of who we are and of what we have and who we may wish to be.
So what makes this possible? What makes it possible to manage the tough times and come out on the other side not only “intact” but feeling stronger because of it?
In my experience, both professionally in listening to literally hundreds of people within my therapeutic practice, spanning 26 years, as well as personally within my own life circumstances, central to this possibility is the relationship between our mind and our emotions. There is a direct relationship between the way that we think and the way that we feel. Our mind and our emotions affect and influence one another. If our thoughts are negative and bleak it will affect the way that we feel; negative thoughts will generate negative and challenging emotions. Likewise, if we are feeling unhappy or low this will colour our thoughts and our perceptions and we will be far more likely to perceive situations and indeed other people with negative expectations.
However logical we may think that we are, our emotions are always in play, unseen and often unacknowledged.
We have a continual emotional interaction with whatever’s going on around us, as well as an emotional response to this and one of the greatest challenges that we face at times of difficulty is how to manage the intense emotions that arise. Even on an everyday basis, our emotions can sometimes prove to be confusing and hard to understand. If our mind hasn’t learned to identify and to understand our emotions, then any kind of intense emotionally-laden experience will present us with a potential difficulty. We won’t know how to interpret the way that we are feeling, and how to handle ourselves in that moment.
Anyone who has ever struggled with intense and overwhelming emotions at times of stress, duress or challenge will know how extraordinarily difficult it is to remain grounded in these moments, and what a challenge it is to remain confident, not only in our interactions with others but also in our belief in ourselves and in our feelings of self-worth, self-value and self-esteem.
Healthy self-esteem and a core sense of inner personal well-being doesn’t come from blocking out our more uncomfortable feelings. It comes from listening to our feelings and attending to them responsively; this enables us to be resilient and ‘to be okay’ regardless of what’s going on in our world. For this to take place, our mind will need to be aware of and receptive to our emotions.
When we talk about being mindful and we teach mindfulness, our desire is to enable people to develop the skill of becoming more ‘present’. In calming the ‘internal noise’ of the mind we can become more reflective and more aware of what is going on, both in and around us within the immediacy of our environment. When we develop our awareness of the present moment, we are actually developing our ability to be fully relational. We are living beings, in constant interaction with the world around us. Even in sleep, we are still connected or ‘in relationship’ with the world around us. A sudden noise might wake us up.
When we develop our ability to be fully present, we are learning to listen and to hear; not simply with our ears, but to relate with our actual experience in the immediacy of the present moment. We are learning to listen to life as a fully relational person and this will involve not only calming our thoughts to enable us to have a clarity of perception within the moment, but it will also involve an awareness of our emotional experience. It will involve being aware of and listening to our emotions.
Human beings are first and foremost relational creatures. Our primary drive is to connect and to relate with others and this is not simply a question of thought. Our relationships and our ability to relate with others is rooted in our emotional experience, our relationships with others are rooted in the emotional bonds that we build, and yet the majority of us will not have grown up in a world that acknowledges the power of our emotions let alone taught us the necessary skills and the emotional intelligence to navigate our lives with an awareness of both thought and feeling and the powerful interaction between them.
Our thoughts and perceptions are influenced and colored by our emotions and likewise our emotions are equally affected by the way that we think. An underlying state of emotional unease fuels negative thinking patterns and perceptions. In turn, a negative state of mind will generate emotions that mirror this unease. Left unattended this interaction can create a downward spiral in both mind and feeling. When we ignore our emotions, we do so at our peril. There is a strong link between our ability to ‘read’ ourselves emotionally and our capacity for self-care. If we lack an awareness or a ‘connection’ to our emotional responses we are missing vital information that serves a primary function in our ability to look after ourselves. We need this emotional information to assist and inform our choices and our decisions.
How many times have all of us NOT listened to the way that we were feeling, and pushed through regardless, only to later regret doing so? I know there have been countless occasions when I have done this myself.
Sometimes my actions followed what I believed that I should be doing, rather than what actually would have felt right. Sometimes I simply didn’t want to listen to my feelings because the outcome would mean acknowledging something that I didn’t really want to hear. It wasn’t what I really wanted so I continued on my fixed course, overriding what later proved to be extremely ‘good information’. In each of these scenarios, my mind was overriding my natural ability to navigate my life from a position of well-informed, responsive, self-care.
I think it is useful here to define a difference here between an ‘inner’ or a ‘gut’ feeling, something deep within us that holds an inner knowing or an inner wisdom, which some people refer to as our ‘higher self,’ as opposed to emotional feelings, and yet both play a part in our ability to navigate our lives successfully.
Like an internal satnav system our emotional feeling is giving us a constant flow of information, and curiously enough, when we do not listen to our ‘inner’ or ‘gut’ feeling, it is our emotions that surface in response to this that will let us know in no uncertain terms that we have navigated ‘off-course’. Given that this book is written to deepen our emotional awareness, when I refer to ‘feelings’ unless otherwise stated I am referring to feelings of an emotional nature.
Our self-awareness and the resulting state of self-responsibility is an ongoing, ever evolving state of being and an inability to listen to ourselves can come about for many reasons. Sometimes we don’t listen to ourselves not because we don’t really want to, but because we simply don’t know how to. If we are a reasonably self-aware individual this may seem strange, but sometimes we can be far more open to listening to others than we are to ourselves and this can get in the way of our capacity for self-care.
Many of us carry unconscious messages that in our adult lives, actually stop us from acting in our own best interests, indeed sometimes our attempts at self-care can even inadvertently sabotage our ability to move our lives forwards. In truth if we have never been given a clear and supportive role model to follow, then developing an attitude of healthy self-care will be a life skill that we will need to learn. Learning to listen to ourselves with an awareness of our emotions plays an integral role in living from a position of healthy self-care.
Our ability to listen primarily to ourselves is a core relational skill, a skill that is fueled by the collaborative meeting of our mind and our emotions, which in turn enables us to listen and to relate with others. There is a relativity between our ability to ‘read’ others emotionally and our capacity to build and to sustain healthy relationships. When our decisions and choices come from a position of true ‘self-responsibility’ they will demonstrate an awareness of our own needs, as well as an awareness of the consequences of our decisions and actions and therefore an awareness of the needs of others.
Wisdom is the outcome of knowledge and experience integrating together. A collaborative relationship between our mind and our emotions actively enables this process to take place. Our mind and our emotions make a very powerful team. When they work well, this collaborative relationship will support us in navigating our lives responsively.
“Part of the problem with the word ‘disabilities’ is that it immediately suggests an inability to see or hear or walk or do other things that many of us take for granted.
But what of people who can't feel? Or talk about their feelings? Or manage their feelings in constructive ways? What of people who aren't able to form close and strong relationships? And people who cannot find fulfillment in their lives, or those who have lost hope, who live in disappointment and bitterness and find in life no joy, no love?
These, it seems to me, are the real disabilities.”
Fred Rogers (b. 1928), television personality
How to Use This Book
“Helping people better manage their upsetting feelings; anger, anxiety, depression, pessimism, and loneliness is a form of disease prevention.
Since the data shows that the toxicity of these emotions, when chronic, is on a par with smoking cigarettes, helping people handle them better could potentially have a medical payoff as great as getting heavy smokers to quit.”
Daniel Goleman (b. 1946), author, psychologist, and science journalist
How to Use This Book
The Empowerment of Emotional Literacy
How to use this book and how to get the very best from it.
This book is designed to build and to develop, to extend and to enhance your emotional vocabulary and the fluency of your emotional language.
In my work as a therapist I continually meet people who are experiencing challenging times and the one common denominator that I find, regardless of individual circumstances, is that every single person that I meet is struggling to relate to the way that they are feeling. They are struggling to understand their emotional experiences. Even when their feelings are completely appropriate and a natural response to the kind of things that are taking place in their world at that time, they feel emotionally overwhelmed and they don’t know how to handle this or how to cope. They lack an understanding of the way that they feel and they have no emotional language and no emotional vocabulary that will enable them to relate, understand and engage with what’s actually going on for them.
It is not uncommon for people to struggle to talk about their feelings and to make sense of them. This can come about for many reasons.
Sometimes we are fearful of what others may think of us. Many of us grew up in a world where showing any kind of emotion, beyond our happy feelings, was frowned upon or discouraged and as a consequence we may have developed all kinds of internal perceptions and inner messages within our mind that leave us feeling bad… about feeling bad! Sometimes we simply have no idea why we are feeling the way that we do. Our emotions seem random; we wake up not feeling ok without any understanding of why. This can feel frightening and challenges us beyond belief, we feel as though we ourselves are out of our own control and can end up becoming fearful of our own feelings. Fearful of the power of our own emotions.
For others, while emotions may not necessarily have been labelled as negative or unacceptable, we may simply have grown up in an environment in which no one ever spoke about their feelings; so we have never had the opportunity to learn a language or an emotional vocabulary that would allow us to develop an understanding within ourselves that would enable us to process and to understand our emotional experiences. If we grew up in a world where our parents didn’t have an emotional language themselves, not because they were bad or inadequate parents, but because they themselves had grown up in a world where their parents had no emotional language either, then this incredibly helpful life skill will be missing. We won’t be well equipped.
Having an emotional language and an emotional vocabulary is a valuable life skill: it establishes a connection between our emotional experience and our mind, a link between experience and thought.
Language is descriptive, our words and the vocabulary that we use helps us to define something and to make sense of it. In doing so we create the opportunity to gain a greater understanding and a greater comprehension of what something may mean.
Language sits at the heart of communication. The health of any relationship will be reliant upon a good level of communication and this includes the kind of internal communication that we have within ourselves. We all have an inner dialogue or conversation that takes place within our mind. If we are faced with intense emotions during a challenging life experience and the kinds of conversation that take place within our mind are encouraging, supportive, mindful and compassionate this will help us to find our way through any adversity. However, if our internal dialogue is dismissive of our emotions or judgmental and full of criticism, this will erode our emotional durability, lower our confidence and undermine our self-esteem, potentially generating even more challenging emotions in what is already a stressful situation. Our ability to listen primarily to ourselves is a core relational skill, a skill that is fueled by the collaborative meeting of our mind and our emotions. This in turn enables us to listen and to relate with others.
Being emotionally healthy isn’t about being happy all of the time.
The basis of emotional health is about being able to understand and be responsive to our emotional experiences and to be able to feel the full range of our emotions and for our mind to remain at relative ease with this. Even in adversity, it is through the meeting of our emotional experience combined with reflective thought that we make sense of our life experiences; in doing so we discover and we develop meaning in life. Developing meaning in life is not just a mental process, it is not simply a question of thought. Our value systems and the things that matter to us are a direct result of the way that we feel about things. Our emotions let us know what matters to us.
When we talk about ‘quality of life’, what we are really talking about is the way that we feel.
When we talk about ‘quality time’, whether it is quality ‘me time’ or ‘quality time’ spent with someone else — whether we are in a fabulous restaurant, cuddled up on the sofa watching TV or sitting on top of a mountain watching the sunset — we are talking about the quality of the time that we are experiencing, the way that we feel and the meaning that these experiences bring to our lives.
Our capacity to develop meaning from an experience is a direct result of a connection and a relatedness between the awareness of our mind and our emotional state of being....
“If you don’t manage your emotions, your emotions will manage you.”
Doc Childre and Deborah Rozman, from Transforming Anxiety
An Exercise to Deepen Awareness
A Daily Invitation. An Exercise in Listening.
My invitation for today
Today I wish to invite you to develop your capacity to be mindful of your emotions and to develop a structure that will enable you to extend, to enhance and to build your emotional language.
My thought for today
“Learn to listen without preconception or judgement.”
The starting point of any form of increasing awareness is to begin to notice and where better to start than within ourselves? If we are unable to comprehend our own emotional experiences, then we are unlikely to comprehend the feelings and emotions of others.
To really use our emotions as the bringers of good and valuable information, we will need to become adept at identifying and listening to them. This will include an ability to recognize our individual emotions.
Because our thoughts and feelings are so interlaced, we often don’t notice the difference between them, let alone our own internal mental attitude towards our emotions. If we lack understanding of our individual emotions — and as a consequence, become fearful of feeling a particular emotion — then in doing so we are inadvertently generating a secondary package of emotion on top of an already challenging experience.
If we ‘feel bad - about feeling bad’ then we have just doubled the emotional load!
If we become ‘anxious - about feeling anxiety’ then we have just doubled the emotional load!
If we become ‘angry and frustrated - because we are feeling angry and frustrated’ then we have just doubled the emotional load!
This is such a common experience, and is incredibly unhelpful for us. The last thing we need at times of emotional difficulty is to make ourselves feel even worse!
A very good starting point to tackle this kind of response is to extend our emotional language in a way that will help us to re-frame the way in which we perceive our emotions. Emotions are frequently talked about in a very black and white kind of language. I often hear them described as either good or bad, positive or negative. We feel good today or we feel bad today. We feel positive or we feel negative. Our mood is high or low. We’re up or we’re down. To my mind this is far too limiting and restricting as it doesn’t allow us to recognize our individual emotions at all and it certainly doesn’t do justice to the range of emotions that we have, or indeed acknowledge the importance of all of them.
When our emotions are perceived within this limited scope of language it can significantly inhibit our ability to listen to what we are feeling and to look more deeply for the root cause of any kind of emotional distress or difficulty that we may be facing. This very black and white terminology automatically tends to raise anxiety whenever we feel anything that we perceive as bad and so contributes to us turning up the intensity volume and effectively ‘doubling the emotional load’ in what was already a challenging situation.
So today I wish to gently challenge any internal perceptions that you may hold in your mind about your emotional states, and I would like to invite you to redefine and reclassify your feelings. I will still use two categories with just two different headings, but rather than the black and white, good/bad, positive/negative version, my two headings are going to be classified as:
‘The Easy, Comfortable Emotions’ – versus - ‘The Uneasy, Uncomfortable Emotions’
It’s not difficult to identify either of these categories. The easy comfortable camp is full of the happy, relaxed, joyous, pleasurable emotions; the uneasy uncomfortable camp is full of the more challenging, difficult feelings we have such as fear, guilt, anxiety, and anger. None of these feelings and emotions are bad. Every emotional state that we experience is actually informing us; whatever we are feeling, whether it’s easy or uneasy, comfortable or uncomfortable, our emotions are telling us something important. It’s an important piece of navigational information. We need to learn to listen to this information so that it can support us in making informed and appropriate choices in our lives, particularly during times of stress and difficulty.
A Useful Exercise
Using a piece of paper or your journal take some time to pause. And as you pause bring your attention to yourself.
You may wish to bring a particular situation to mind. If this is the case, give your mind a few moments to focus on the scenario.
Letting go of any preconceptions, associations or judgements, both good or bad, that you may carry about specific emotions, notice what you are feeling in this present moment and become aware of any specific emotions that are present. Also notice any sensations in your physical body: are you relaxed, are you tense?
Draw a line down the middle of the page and on one side list everything that you are feeling. Try not to edit yourself. Give yourself the freedom to just listen and to write without any form of judgement or interpretation. Simply listen and become an observer of the way that you feel.
When you have finished, ask yourself these questions, making any notes and observations on the other side of the page.
Were you fully aware of the way that you were feeling, or have your emotions only come to your attention because you have paused and taken conscious time to notice?
How easily were you able to identify your different emotions? Is your mind familiar with the different emotional states that you feel? Many of us are not!
Do you perceive any of these emotions in black and white terms, good or bad, positive or negative?
Are you aware of any thinking patterns that may be contributing to the intensity of the emotions that you have noticed?
Are you ‘doubling the load’?
Do any of your emotions generate further emotions?
Now using two new fresh pages, one for each of the two new categories of the ‘easy and comfortable’ and the ‘uneasy and uncomfortable’ feelings, I would invite you to re-list all of the emotions that you have identified.
Any that fall under the easy, more comfortable heading are a validation and should be listened to, acknowledged, appreciated and — if appropriate — celebrated!
Any that fall under the more challenging heading are requiring your attention.
In the latter case, without any form of judgement or criticism, take some time to consider what it is that these feelings may be trying to tell you. How do they relate to the situation that you brought to mind?
Our more challenging emotions are very often a ‘call to action’. Something needs to change.
If you are uncertain about any of your feeling states, then the most appropriate ‘call to action’ in this moment may be to firstly gain a greater understanding of this emotion, whilst giving yourself permission to take time for reflection before engaging in any kind of decision-making.
If any of these feelings are so extreme in intensity that you feel completely overwhelmed or ‘dis-abled’ by them, then the ‘call to action’ may be to give yourself permission to seek support and if genuinely needed, to seek independent professional support in talking things through to help to identify the most appropriate way forwards. New York Times bestselling Author Katherine Woodward Thomas uses the term, ‘Inner Detective’. I love this language. When we notice, we immediately create the possibility of becoming an observer of our own experience. We create the possibility of becoming our own inner detective: the investigator (and therefore the solver) of our problems.
When our mind notices our emotions with inquiry and interest, compassion and care, combined with knowledge of our individual emotional states, we can begin to unravel the nature of the information they are bringing us and to use this to inform the choices and the decisions that we face within our lives on a daily basis.
In the next Chapter, we will begin our exploration of each of our most challenging emotions.