“How are you?”

This question has turned into a simple greeting that usually receives an automatic response of, “I’m good, how are you?” Although this may be the appropriate response for the setting, let’s try asking ourselves how we are really feeling.


Take a few deep breaths.

Ask, how do I feel right now?

Maybe it’s happy, tired, angry, or sad, or perhaps it’s determined, hopeful, inadequate, or curious.

Continue with a few deep breaths.

Now try asking, where do I feel this in my body?

Maybe you feel tense in your shoulders, a sensation in your chest, or heaviness in your arms.

Take a few more deep breaths to finish your check-in.


A simple check-in like this can help build our emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence (EI) refers to the ability to perceive, control, and evaluate emotions, both in ourselves and in others. So, how can identifying our emotions and building our emotional intelligence help us?

Having a higher emotional intelligence can bring higher self-awareness and self-regulation. Essentially, it’s being aware of your emotion, interpreting what is making you feel that way and why, and then managing how you react to that emotion. As we become stronger in self-awareness and self-regulation, the stronger our ability is to respond calmly to negative environments, recognize and fulfill personal needs in order to achieve goals, and remain motivated.

Understanding our emotions can lead to expressing ourselves more clearly in order to build healthy relationships and work through conflicts better. Not only will you understand yourself better, but you’ll start to understand others better as well. Recognizing our emotions can also help us recognize what we do and don’t like, which can lead us towards hobbies, careers, or people that have a positive impact on our life. Not expressing our feelings and “bottling them up” can cause an outburst of agitation or anger, and can lead us to feel more out of control.


So how can we practice and get better at identifying our emotions?

You can use the quick check-in we did at the beginning of this blog. Other questions you may want to ask are:

  • What is it that I want?
  • What is this emotion trying to tell me?
  • Was there an issue during the day that is still bothering me?

As we ask ourselves these questions, it’s a good idea to have a feelings wheel near us, like the one pictured below. Building our emotion vocabulary can help us gain better understanding and insight into the emotion we are feeling, helping us better understand ourselves and our needs. Another good way to practice is by journaling and telling someone we trust about how we are feeling.


Remember, practice makes perfect. You may have to be deliberate in settling into your body with deep breathing, and then be active in asking yourself how you’re feeling while looking at a feelings wheel. That’s okay! If you are having trouble identifying and understanding your emotions, contact us. A therapist at Heartland Therapy Connection can help you on your journey to recognizing emotions and becoming self-aware.

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