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Do you have feelings about your feelings? (DW#460)

emotions feelings Sep 28, 2018

Yesterday we talked about how it is more effective to notice and label emotions without adding our judgement to whether they are positive or negative – good or bad.

One way to look at this is that we can stop having feelings about our feelings. 

Here is how one author explains it (apologies as I cannot remember who it was!):

At least half of our negative emotions would disappear if we did just one thing: stop having feelings about our feelings.

For example, if we are sad about something, we become mad at ourselves on top of that, for being sad. So, now not only are we sad, we also are beating ourselves for it. So this becomes like a wounded person, who starts beating themselves for being wounded. 

When we do this, three things happen:
1) We never treat the wound itself. And what happens to a wound that isn't treated? It is more likely to get worse rather than go away. 

2) We cage the original emotion, rather than letting it take its course and flow away...

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Quit “shoulding” your emotions (DW#459)

emotions self development Sep 27, 2018

Once you start becoming aware of your emotions, it is very tempting to start labeling them as good or bad – positive or negative. You may be tempted to believe that sadness and anger for example are bad. And happiness or excitement are good. You then may begin to tell yourself "I should not feel anger or resentment". "I should feel happy at my success". 

We will later cover why it is not useful to treat emotions as good or bad. For now, please stay with the practice of noticing and naming the emotion itself without the judgement of good or bad. 

While becoming aware of emotions is helpful towards managing them effectively, labeling them as good or bad often has the effect of trying to get rid of the emotion without really understanding what it is trying to teach us. 

Suspending our judgement about particular emotions also allows them to run their course and dissipate. Labeling, judging and "shoulding" the emotion on the other hand, tends to feed the emotion and...

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Name them to tame them (DW#458)

A simple first step towards building emotional intelligence is to notice and label the feelings you are experiencing at any given time. 

Although a simple exercise, it can be challenging at first to name an emotion and it is easy to mistake a thought for a feeling. 

An effective way to begin this practice is to get in touch with the physical sensations in your body. When you experience an emotion, electric signals are triggered by your brain to your body and show up as physical sensations such as changes in heart beat, in pace and depth of breath, in muscle tenseness and change of temperature on your skin. 

You can take a moment to check in with yourself right now. Close your eyes and get present to what is happening inside right now. Begin to notice your breath and your heart rate. Do your muscles feel tight or relaxed? If tight, where is the tightness precisely?
Once you get comfortable with a neutral reading of your body, you may want to practice thinking about a...

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Emotional self awareness is not that common (DW#457)

emotions self awareness Sep 25, 2018

If you are not aware of your emotions as they are happening, please don’t give yourself a hard time.

According to a credible study, only 36% of people are able to accurately identify their emotions as they happen. What this suggests is that the vast majority of us are being controlled by our emotions and are that they may be leading us to where we might not want to go.

If we are not aware of our emotions, we do not recognize that we are continuously having emotional reactions to everything that is happening around us and in our lives. We may find that we are overreacting to triggers and don’t understand what happened to cause the overreaction. We may find ourselves blaming others for our feelings rather than confront the uncomfortable truth that we did not recognize we were emotionally aroused until the feelings bubbled over as a behavioural overreaction. 

But you know what the great thing about awareness is? Just thinking about emotional awareness makes you more...

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The five domains of emotional intelligence (DW#456)

In Daniel Goleman's book "Emotional Intelligence", the author explains that there are five main domains of emotional intelligence: Self awareness, emotional regulation, internal motivation, recognizing emotions in others and handling relationships. 

So let’s begin to explore these domains one at a time. 

Self awareness:

This is the foundational basis of emotional intelligence.

Self awareness is the ability to recognize and understand your own emotions. As we mentioned last week, our emotions drive us to act. If we are unaware of our emotions, we will act in ways that don’t make sense to us or to others. Our unrecognized and unprocessed emotions may result in us acting against our own self interest and in ways that hurt other people.

Recognizing our emotions as they are happening also allows us to become aware of of the effect of our moods and behaviours on other people, both at work and at home.

Once we become aware of our emotions, we can begin to recognize the...

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What it means to stand with Hussain (DW#455)

Today's wisdom comes from my daughter Sara who wrote this piece on what it means to stand with Imam Hussain (as) 

As this year's azadari comes to a close, I've been thinking about what values this annual commemoration draws out of me: 

if I am with Hussain (as), I value and honor the significance of histories and herstories of oppression and of standing up against injustice, and I make a conscious effort to remember them in community. I believe in the power of storytelling. I do not dismiss these stories for being "so long ago" or of a different people or from a far away place. 

if I am with Hussain (as), I stand with the systematically oppressed, silenced, disenfranchised, abused, tortured, murdered, and imprisoned

if I am with Hussain (as), I work towards a level of commitment to justice for the aforementioned where I am willing to give up anything and everything - my comfort, my wealth, my ego, and my life - in pursuit of it

if I am with Hussain (as), I am of those...
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Remembering Hussain on Ashura (DW#454)

Today marks the Day of Ashura, the day when Hussain ibn Ali, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed (saw) was martyred on the plains of Karbala (present day Iraq) in the year 680AD. 

Millions of people around the world commemorate this day with solemnity and a renewed commitment to stand for social justice.
 
In Islamic spirituality, there are many narrations from the Holy Prophet (saw) regarding the merits of remembering Hussain, his family and his companions. It can sometimes be challenging to understand the status that Hussain has with God and with people.

Here is a story which might help:

It is said that there was once a King who was fighting a battle and in the midst of the battle, a storm descended, and he came to be separated from the rest of his troops and found himself in a jungle.

Hungry and dishevelled, he was near panic when he saw a modest hut. He approached the hut and found that an old woman lived there.

He explained that he was lost and hungry and...

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How many emotions can you name? (DW#453)

emotions self awareness Sep 19, 2018

In 1972, psychologist Paul Eckman suggested that there are six basic emotions that are universal throughout human cultures: fear, disgust, anger, surprise, happiness, and sadness. 

In 1999, he expanded this list to include a number of other basic emotions, including embarrassment, excitement, contempt, shame, pride, satisfaction, and amusement. 

But a new study out of UC Berkley professor Dacher Keltner now suggests that there are at least 27 distinct emotions—and they are intimately connected with each other. 

The study followed a demographically diverse group of 853 men and women who went online to view a random sampling of silent five- to 10-second videos intended to evoke a broad range of emotions. Keltner and his colleagues at UC Berkeley found that 27 distinct dimensions, not six, were necessary to account for the way these hundreds of people reliably reported feeling in response to these videos. 

The researchers also found that emotional experiences...

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The three components of emotions (DW#452)

emotions self awareness Sep 18, 2018

When we think of emotions, most of us only focus on how they "feel" but this is only part of the picture.

Psychologists explain that each emotional experience has three components. Understanding these three components of our emotional experiences is an important step in helping us manage strong emotions. 

Here are the three components:

1)    The Feeling/Physical Component: "How I feel in my body"
Emotions manifest in internal sensations in our bodies which can include heart palpitations, stomach distress, sweating, hot or cold flushes, shortness of breathe, fatigue, muscle tension or increased energy.

2)    The Thinking/Cognitive Component: "What I say to myself"
How we interpret events and experiences and the self talk that we engage in greatly impact what we end up feeling and doing. If someone cuts us off on the highway, for example, what we tell ourselves about the other driver will make us feel either anger or sympathy for...

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A brief history of emotions (DW#451)

emotions self awareness Sep 17, 2018

Although emotions are as old as human beings themselves, it is only fairly recently that the word "emotion" has become of our everyday language.

The word "emotion" comes from Latin and French emovere meaning to "stir up, to move, to agitate". Some scholars would even define the term as "to suffer an emotion", which itself points to the disdain with which emotions have been viewed. 

The term emotion was introduced into academic discussion as a catch-all term for passions, sentiments and affections. It was coined in the early 1800s by Thomas Brown and it is around the 1830s that the modern concept of emotion first emerged. "No one felt emotions before about 1830. Instead they felt other things - "passions", "accidents of the soul", "moral sentiments" - and explained them very differently from how we understand emotions today.

Historically, thinkers in the West have contrasted the ‘animal’ passions with calm and "God-like reason". Plato, for example,...

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