Mental Health
4-Step Technique To Explore & Trust Your Feelings

4-Step Technique To Explore & Trust Your Feelings

7 min read


Lauren Carlson

We live in a world that often encourages us to trust our instincts and follow our gut feelings. But let's be honest, our emotions can be fickle and misleading at times. How many times have we made impulsive decisions only to regret them later? The truth is, while our feelings can provide valuable insights, they aren't always a reliable compass for making important choices in life.

If you've ever found yourself questioning whether you can truly trust your emotions, you're not alone. Many people struggle with this dilemma, seeking a method to discern between genuine intuition and fleeting emotions. That's why we're here to share a powerful four-step technique that will help you navigate through the confusion and make informed decisions.

In this blog post, we'll delve into the intricacies of understanding your feelings and introduce a practical framework that enables you to determine when to trust them and when to proceed with caution. By applying these four steps, you'll gain a greater sense of clarity and confidence when it comes to making important life choices.

So, if you're ready to unravel the complexities of your emotions and take control of your decision-making process, let's dive in and explore this transformative technique together.

Understanding Gut Feelings

Before we discuss our technique, we want to discuss the most important feeling one has, their gut feelings. Our gut feelings, also known as intuition, are often regarded as a mysterious and powerful force guiding us through life's uncertainties. But what exactly are gut feelings, and how do they influence our decision-making?

Gut feelings are those instinctive reactions or responses that arise within us, seemingly without logical reasoning or conscious thought. They can manifest as a sense of unease or excitement, a hunch, or an inner knowing that something is right or wrong. These feelings can emerge from deep within our subconscious mind, drawing on past experiences, knowledge, and subtle cues that our conscious mind may not immediately grasp.

Understanding gut feelings requires us to acknowledge that they are a part of our innate human nature. Throughout history, our ancestors relied on intuition to survive in challenging and unpredictable environments. It served as an early warning system, alerting them to potential dangers or opportunities even before they could articulate a logical explanation.

While gut feelings can provide invaluable guidance, it's essential to recognize that they are not infallible. Sometimes, our emotions and biases can cloud our judgment, leading us astray. This is why developing a discerning approach to evaluating our gut feelings becomes crucial.

To better understand our gut feelings, it's helpful to cultivate self-awareness. Pay attention to your bodily sensations, emotions, and thoughts when making decisions or contemplating important choices. Notice any subtle shifts or cues that arise within you, even if they initially seem disconnected from the situation at hand. By cultivating this mindful awareness, you can begin to discern between genuine gut feelings and fleeting emotional impulses.

Additionally, take the time to reflect on your past experiences where your gut feelings proved accurate or led you astray. What were the common patterns or factors that influenced the reliability of your intuition? This retrospective analysis can offer valuable insights into your personal intuition style and help you refine your decision-making process.

Remember, understanding gut feelings is an ongoing journey of self-discovery. It's not about dismissing or blindly following them, but rather about developing a balanced approach that integrates both rational thinking and intuitive guidance. In the following sections, we will outline a practical four-step technique that empowers you to make more informed choices by assessing the reliability of your gut feelings. So, let's proceed to explore this transformative technique together.

4-Step Technique to Determine if You Can Trust Your Feelings

Through the deliberate exploration of each of these steps, you can deepen your understanding of your emotions, identify potential influences, and gain a more discerning perspective on whether you can trust the intensity and validity of your feelings in a given situation. Here are the four steps:

Step 1: Sit with the Feeling and Analyze

The first step in determining the trustworthiness of your feelings is to sit with the emotion and analyze it. Take a moment to identify and name the specific feelings you are experiencing. Recognize that intense emotions often comprise a mixture of several different feelings. By articulating and labeling these emotions, you can gain clarity and a better understanding of their individual components.

Next, reflect on the factors in your current life that might be contributing to these feelings. Consider both significant events or circumstances as well as seemingly trivial occurrences. Sometimes, seemingly insignificant events can trigger intense emotional responses. By identifying the underlying causes of your emotions, you can start unraveling the complexity of your feelings and gain insights into their origins.

Step 2: Imagine Advising a Friend

In the second step, imagine that a close friend is sharing the same story and expressing the same feelings you are experiencing. Put yourself in the role of a trusted advisor to your friend. How would you respond to their situation? Would you perceive their feelings as excessive, off, or wrong?

By taking on this perspective, you can gain a more objective view of the emotions at hand. Consider whether you would offer any alternative interpretations or advice to your friend. This exercise helps you distance yourself from your own subjective experience and evaluate the validity of your feelings from an external standpoint.

Step 3: Reflect on Past Experiences

Next, reflect on your past experiences and explore whether you have encountered similar feelings or a mixture of emotions before. Recall the circumstances that caused those emotions in the past. Are there any similarities between those past situations and your current one? Could some of the old emotions be resurfacing and attaching themselves to your present circumstances?

By delving into your past, you can uncover potential triggers and patterns that might be influencing your current emotional response. Recognizing the interplay between past and present emotions enables you to make more informed judgments about the reliability of your feelings.

Step 4: Visualize and Assess Emotional Intensity

In the final step, close your eyes and focus on your feelings. Visualize a metaphorical meter that measures the intensity of your emotions. Begin by directing your attention to the needle representing the old, past emotions. Observe how high the needle registers on the meter, indicating the level of emotional intensity.

Next, shift your focus to the needle representing the feelings attached to the current situation. Notice how high it rises on the meter, reflecting the intensity of your present emotions. Comparing the two needles allows you to discern whether the current situation is genuinely responsible for the heightened emotional response or if it may be amplified by past emotional baggage.

By visually and introspectively assessing the emotional intensity, you gain a tangible representation of the emotional weight attributed to both past and present circumstances. This exercise aids in evaluating the relative significance of each set of emotions and provides a clearer perspective on the trustworthiness of your feelings.

Avoid Doing This When Navigating Your Feelings

When it comes to navigating our feelings, there are certain pitfalls that we should be aware of and actively avoid. By recognizing and addressing these pitfalls, we can cultivate a healthier and more constructive relationship with our emotions. Let's explore three important aspects to avoid when navigating our feelings: marginalizing feelings, avoiding painful emotions, and understanding the impact of past pain on our emotional experiences.

Marginalizing Feelings

One common mistake we often make is marginalizing or dismissing our feelings. Society sometimes encourages us to suppress or downplay our emotions, labeling them as insignificant or irrational. However, this can be detrimental to our well-being. Every emotion we experience has its own validity and serves a purpose in our lives.

When we marginalize our feelings, we deny ourselves the opportunity to understand their underlying messages and address the underlying issues. It is crucial to acknowledge and honor our emotions, regardless of their intensity or perceived significance. By doing so, we can learn from them and gain valuable insights into our needs, desires, and boundaries.

Avoiding Painful Emotions

Painful emotions, such as sadness, grief, or anger, are often uncomfortable to experience. It is natural to seek ways to avoid or numb ourselves from these feelings. However, avoiding painful emotions can hinder our emotional growth and healing process.

Suppressing or ignoring our painful emotions may provide temporary relief, but in the long run, they tend to resurface, often with greater intensity. It is essential to create a safe space for ourselves to fully experience and process these emotions. Embracing them allows us to understand their origins, learn from them, and ultimately find healthy ways to cope and heal.

Understanding the Impact of Past Pain

Our emotional responses in the present are often shaped by our past experiences. Painful events or traumas from the past can leave deep emotional imprints that influence our reactions and perceptions in the present. It is crucial to recognize that our emotions are not isolated occurrences but are interconnected with our personal histories.

By acknowledging the impact of past pain on our emotional landscape, we can develop greater self-compassion and understanding. Exploring our past experiences with the support of therapy or self-reflection can help us untangle the complex web of emotions, allowing us to make sense of our reactions and make conscious choices that support our well-being.

Comparing and Invalidating Your Feelings

Another pitfall to avoid when navigating your feelings is the tendency to compare your emotions to those of others or invalidate them altogether. Each person's emotional experience is unique and valid, regardless of how it may differ from others' experiences or societal expectations.

Comparing your feelings to others can lead to self-doubt and undermine your ability to trust your own emotional guidance. Remember that your emotions are a reflection of your individual perceptions, experiences, and needs. Honor and respect the authenticity of your own emotional landscape without diminishing or belittling them.

Similarly, be cautious of invalidating your own emotions by telling yourself that you shouldn't feel a certain way or that your feelings are unjustified. Emotions arise within us for a reason, and they hold valuable information about our inner state. Instead of invalidating your feelings, practice self-compassion and self-acceptance. Give yourself permission to experience and explore your emotions without judgment or self-criticism.

Navigating our feelings requires a willingness to embrace the full spectrum of emotions, without marginalization or avoidance. It is an ongoing process of self-discovery, self-compassion, and personal growth. By avoiding the pitfalls of marginalizing feelings, avoiding painful emotions, and understanding the influence of past pain, we can cultivate a healthier and more authentic relationship with our emotions, paving the way for greater emotional well-being and resilience.

The Benefits of Therapy and Exploring Your Feelings

Embarking on a journey of self-discovery and understanding your feelings can be greatly enhanced through the support of therapy or counseling. Seeking professional guidance provides a dedicated space for exploration, self-reflection, and gaining deeper insights into your emotional landscape. Let's explore the benefits of therapy and how it can facilitate your journey of learning more about your feelings.

A Safe and Non-Judgmental Environment

Therapy offers a safe and non-judgmental environment where you can freely express your thoughts and emotions. It provides a confidential space where you can explore sensitive or painful feelings without fear of being misunderstood or criticized. A skilled therapist creates a supportive atmosphere that encourages openness, trust, and self-acceptance.

Enhanced Self-Awareness

Therapy facilitates self-awareness, allowing you to gain a deeper understanding of your emotions, thought patterns, and behavioral responses. Through guided introspection and reflection, therapists help you explore the underlying causes and triggers of your feelings. This increased self-awareness enables you to recognize patterns, identify emotional blind spots, and develop a more nuanced understanding of yourself.

Developing Emotional Coping Strategies

Learning more about your feelings through therapy equips you with effective coping strategies to navigate challenging emotions. Therapists provide valuable tools and techniques tailored to your unique needs, empowering you to manage stress, regulate emotions, and navigate difficult situations more skillfully. These coping strategies help you cultivate emotional resilience, improve your overall well-being, and enhance your relationships.

Healing Past Wounds and Traumas

Therapy provides a supportive space for processing and healing past wounds or traumas that may influence your current emotional experiences. Skilled therapists guide you through a healing journey, helping you navigate unresolved emotions, release emotional pain, and develop healthy ways of integrating past experiences into your present life. This process allows for personal growth, self-compassion, and the opportunity to free yourself from emotional burdens.

Improved Relationship Dynamics

Understanding your feelings can have a profound impact on your relationships. Therapy offers an opportunity to explore how your emotions affect your interactions with others. It provides insights into communication patterns, emotional triggers, and attachment styles, allowing you to develop healthier and more fulfilling relationships. By gaining a deeper understanding of your feelings, you can foster empathy, improve emotional intimacy, and enhance your overall connection with others.

Looking to Start Therapy? Try MyWellbeing

Therapy serves as a valuable resource in the journey of learning more about your feelings. It offers a safe and supportive space to explore, understand, and process your emotions. Find a therapist or coach that is tailored to you on the MyWellbeing online therapy matchmaking portal, and start receiving online therapy today.

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About the author

Lauren is a member of the content team at MyWellbeing. She originally began her career in Client Services within the field of Advertising Technology. Recently, she transitioned career paths to pursue her passion for helping others. In December 2022, Lauren graduated with a Master’s degree in School Counseling and is primarily focused on working with middle school and high school students.

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