Understanding Emotions
Through Sensations

by May Bleeker, updated 24 Feb 2022

For this exercise you will need:

  • The Understanding Emotions through Sensations Worksheet (downloadable pdf - updated version. Please refresh your browser if it doesn't automatically download)
  • Coloured pencils or felt-tips
  • 30 minutes (15 minutes for the exercise, 15 minutes for discussion or reflection)
colourful hand, sense of touch, image from www.doorway-to-self-esteem.com

These are the steps to follow:

1. Choose the emotion you want to explore.

2. When you last felt this, what sensations did you feel in your body at the time and where in your body did you feel it?

For example, did your hands shake? Did your eyes burn or throat close up? Did your shoulders get tight? Did it affect your chest, your stomach, your arms, legs, feet, or hands?

3. Colour in the figure to show which parts of your body were affected by your feelings.

4. What did these sensations make you want to do?

5. What can you tell that part of yourself that might help relieve the feeling?

6. Turn what you said in no.5 into an affirmation you can repeat to yourself whenever you feel this feeling. Or try some of these positive affirmations for managing emotions.

Letting It Go

Sometimes paying attention to emotions can really bring them into focus.

Understanding emotions and knowing how you are feeling is an important part of self awareness and helps you navigate through life.

As long as you don't get too caught up in the feelings, focusing attention on them can help you recognize what is happening and help you move on from the situation when the time is right.

For example, if you feel grief about something or someone you've lost, bringing attention to your emotions can help you really experience them (instead of avoiding them) and this can help you eventually move on to more moderate and less painful feelings.

Avoiding how you are feeling will just delay the process you have to go through to eventually 'move on' from these feelings.

But paying too much attention to emotions can also have the opposite effect and make them feel amplified.

How much is too much? Well, use your sense of comfort as a barometer. If you feel you are dwelling too much on an emotion, then you probably are.

If several people you trust are telling you that you need to move on from something that you are feeling, then it is probably time.

If your emotions are so prominent that they are interfering with you living your life in a reasonable, effective and balanced way, then they are probably taking too much of your energy and attention.

Often doing something practical and hands-on helps draw attention away from troublesome emotions. When this doesn't work, there are exercises one can do to help move on. I will add some examples of these in time.

The practice of meditation is also a subtle, but powerful and effective method to practice 'letting go'.

Return Understanding Emotions Through the Senses (5 Practical Ways to Explore Emotions)

Return to Doorway to Self Esteem Home Page 

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