How do you know that you are using your emotions most effectively in your life? You will be on your way to emotional choice when you are able to experience a wide range of emotions and you begin to understand what each of these emotions communicates to you. The crucial point could well be to see emotions as meaningful information about how to improve your life rather than seeing them as random blows delivered to you by a hostile environment. (Click on the picture to see an enlarged wheel of emotions).
Having emotional choice means to be able to feel both pleasant and unpleasant emotions and move through them with ease without dwelling too long on unpleasant emotions. Really, they are only there to tell you that something is not working and you need to take action. Emotions are not set to guarantee a person’s happiness. They are, in the widest sense set to ensure the survival of the species. Following the Darwinian principle of survival of the fittest, emotions are set to support human beings in doing just that!
The lack of emotional choice is signified by responding consistently to everyday life situations with debilitation emotions such as feeling inadequate, helpless, ashamed, despairing, angry, guilt, fear, loneliness, or frustrated. Rather than taking these emotions as a signal to change aspects of their lives, people with lack of emotional choice try to get away from these emotions by withdrawing, becoming violent, or by overusing substances (drugs and alcohol).
Sometimes a person’s belief system can get in the way of emotional literacy. They end up believing that it is wrong to feel certain emotions. Desire, envy, or anger are examples of commonly suppressed or avoided feelings because they cause people to feel shame or guilt.