Learning to Trust Your Emotions
We all are born with a certain amount of intuition. The problem is, from a very young age we are often told to ignore our feelings or that our feelings are just wrong. Much like force-feeding an infant can cause the child to start ignoring their natural hunger control mechanism, it's the same with emotions. The more we have been taught to push down our feelings, the more likely we are not to trust our emotions.
You Get a Feeling in Your Gut That Something Is Wrong
Everyone has a natural ability to know if something is not right in any given situation. The problem is, over time you may have pushed down those feelings as wrong or even crazy. You meet a new person and for no known reason you feel like something is off. You talk to someone and believe they are lying. While you may not want to react to these instances that aren't cause for immediate danger, keep an open mind and keep your eyes open. Chances are you'll find out that you're right more than you're wrong.
The Hairs on the Back of Your Neck Stand Up
Every human is born with a “flight or fight” effect. Sometimes the hairs on the back of your neck will stand up, or you get prickly and feel like running. Most of the time, you should pay attention to this feeling. Often, you'll find that when you feel that way a spider is nearby or you are in serious danger. Do not ignore these nagging feelings, ever. Even if you're wrong, it's best to be safe.
You Feel a Tug to Help Someone
T.V. commercials use these emotions when they want you to send money to save the starving children in Africa or donate to save abused animals. The feelings you feel when watching those commercials are normal and you should respect them. When you feel compelled to help people, don't push it down. Freely offer help because denying your feelings about this will cause you to feel bad about yourself.
You Feel Pulled to Do Something Different
You're sitting in your cubicle bored to tears wanting desperately to do something different but you are afraid to change. If you feel pulled in a new direction, take the time to give it some real consideration instead of nixing it immediately. Bill Gates didn't allow nagging doubt to stop him from becoming so successful.
You Feel Confident in Your Abilities
When you are feeling confident, don't push those feelings down. You have a right to feel good about what you are doing and to feel capable. When you feel good about yourself it's not misplaced pride or bragging. So often, people (especially women) are taught from a young age not to boast about their abilities. This puts young women at a disadvantage from their male counterparts when it comes to jobs and fair pay. Allow yourself to feel confident when it's appropriate.
Make Your Environment Comfortable
Emotions need a safe environment to be felt fully. You're your own best friend. Only you can create the right environment that is safe for you to feel the emotions that you have. Make your home safe for yourself and safe for your entire family. As Dr. Phil says, “home should be a safe place to fall.”
Acknowledge the Different Emotions You Experience
Don't push away emotions that you have about drugs, alcohol or food. Instead, allow yourself to experience a full range of emotions as appropriate. Of course, you do have to show some measure of propriety in public, but you can express appropriate emotions in appropriate places as they come to you.
Try to Name the Emotions Others Are Having
In order to improve your capacity for empathy, practice naming and expressing the emotions that other people are having. People who can show great empathy to others, even if they haven't gone through the situation themselves, have much happier lives than those who cannot relate to other human beings at all. You don't have to be homeless yourself to understand how truly demoralizing the experience is.
Write Down Your Feelings
Keep a feelings journal for yourself to help you process different feelings that you are having, and different feelings that you note that other people have about situations in life. Your journal can help you work through emotions in a healthy way, as well as give you something to look back at when you are having trouble.
Test Your Judgment Accuracy and Go for It
If you are afraid to go with your gut due to having pushed down the skill from a young age, pick one thing to test. For example, if you feel like you need to switch jobs, start job hunting in earnest. It won't hurt to go on some job interviews to test your intuition. You might find the job of a lifetime. Or if you feel strange, such as running from a situation, go ahead and do it.
As you learn to trust your emotions by practicing actually feeling them, you'll get better at discerning what's right and wrong.