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Cultivating Emotional Awareness and Understanding

by Mark D. Lerner, Ph.D.

Chairman, The National Center for Emotional Wellness


In our increasingly technological world, it is essential to prioritize our emotional well-being. Emotional wellness not only enhances the quality of our lives but also empowers us to manage effectively through challenges and change. One effective approach to achieving emotional well-being is cultivating awareness and understanding of our emotions and recognizing their connection with our thoughts.


Emotional wellness encompasses the ability to experience positive feelings, maintain healthy relationships, manage stress, and make informed decisions. Research has consistently shown that emotional well-being is associated with higher levels of happiness, improved cognitive abilities, and enhanced overall life satisfaction (Diener et al., 2018). Consequently, individuals with higher emotional wellness tend to experience improved physical health, lower levels of anxiety and depression, and stronger coping abilities when faced with adversity (Fredrickson et al., 2013).


Self-awareness, a fundamental component of emotional wellness, involves consciously recognizing and understanding the connectedness of our feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. By developing a keen sense of self-awareness, we gain a deeper understanding of our emotional triggers and patterns, enabling us to respond in more constructive ways (Brown & Ryan, 2003). This heightened self-awareness also helps us identify areas of personal growth, allowing for intentional and positive development.


Our feelings and thoughts are interconnected; they influence and shape each other. Whenever we experience an emotion, it is inherently linked to a corresponding thought or series of thoughts. By exploring the relationship between our feelings and thoughts, we can gain valuable insights into our mental and emotional states (Dalgleish, 2004). This understanding allows us to challenge negative or irrational thoughts, reshaping them into positive and rational ones, leading to improved emotional well-being (Moskowitz et. al., 2014).


The development of self-awareness is an ongoing process that demands dedication and effort. Fortunately, there are strategies to begin this transformative journey. One such technique is mindfulness meditation, which empowers us to observe our thoughts and feelings without passing judgment (Keng et al., 2011). Additionally, journaling our emotions and reflections can aid in gaining a deeper understanding of the inner self (Pennebaker & Chung, 2011). Engaging in regular self-reflection, seeking therapy, and soliciting feedback from trusted family and friends are also effective means to enhance self-awareness.


Emotional well-being is not merely a luxury; it is a necessity for a fulfilled life in our fast-paced and technology-centric world. By actively engaging in self-awareness, we can tap into the transformative power of emotional wellness. Understanding the intricate connection between feelings and thoughts allows for positive change, improved coping, and a greater sense of overall well-being.


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