Connect with Your Emotions

Connecting with yourself means connecting with your emotions. This is what introspection is all about: turning inward and observing what’s going on inside yourself without judgment.

The relationship you have with yourself is the most important relationship you’ll ever have, and emotional health lies at the heart of this relationship. Emotional exploration isn’t easy, but it can form the foundation for a self-relationship that will support you in all other areas of whole-person health. Approaching your emotions with acceptance and compassion, checking in with them regularly, and creating space for emotional rest are core components of having a healthy relationship with yourself.

Approach Emotions with Acceptance and Compassion

Nurturing your relationship with yourself requires practicing acceptance and compassion. It requires being curious, without judgment, about what’s really going on for you and taking an honest look at your current needs and desires. Don't be afraid to ask tough questions or sit with uncomfortable feelings as you uncover layers of yourself. Strengthening the connection you have with yourself is a surprisingly effective way to move toward where you want to be.

How do you do this? To start, treat your emotions like friends, not enemies. Notice them, welcome them, offer them unconditional love, and listen to what they have to say. Try to make sense of your experiences and adapt so that you can integrate them and move through life in harmony with those experiences.

This doesn’t mean you’ll never feel frustrated, sad, or angry about your emotions; it means you’re continually working toward the goal of nonresistance. Practicing acceptance and self-compassion isn’t always easy, but the more you can lead with it, the more it will become second nature – and emotions provide a perfect opportunity to practice.

Check In with Emotions

Another part of connecting with yourself is checking in regularly with your emotions. If you’re not sure how to do this, think about how you would check in with a friend. Maybe you call, maybe you send a text, or maybe you sit down and have a chat.

When you check in with yourself, you’re essentially communicating with yourself as if you’re another person. You’re stepping outside yourself in order to gain new perspectives on what’s going on with you internally.

When you check in with yourself internally, you’re also practicing active listening – listening with your full attention using all your senses to understand what’s being communicated.

Select a tip for checking in with yourself to learn more. These are just a few ideas, and they might spark more ideas. Tap into your creativity to find what works for you.

This helps you remain fully present, listen with compassion, and be open to what you hear. Think about how you would listen to a friend. You would patiently pay attention to what the person is saying and give them as much time as they need to express thoughts and feelings. One approach you can use to practice listening to yourself is setting a timer on your phone. Start small with five minutes, and increase the time as you feel more comfortable.

Writing can be a helpful way to connect with your emotions. For example, you can spend the first five minutes after you wake up journaling or set aside a few minutes after meetings you foresee being stressful. You don’t have to journal every day. Find a consistent structure that works for you, try it for a week, and see how it goes.

We all have multiple inner parts, which you’ll learn more about later in the module. Inner child work(this link opens in a new window/tab)  can be incredibly rewarding. It’s helpful to work with a trained mental health professional, but you can find simple ways to connect with your inner child regularly. When you’re experiencing joy or pain, give yourself a safe space to let the child in you express itself, whether through dancing, crying, or yelling. Connecting with your younger self can give you permission to feel emotions or even say things you might not be as open to saying or feeling as an adult. Be sure to offer a safe space and validate anything that comes up without judgment.

Every morning for a week, check in with yourself for a few minutes and videotape it. Maybe you’re talking about a current challenge or something positive in your life or maybe you’re conversing with your emotions. At the end of the week, watch the videos. This might feel uncomfortable, but it can be a powerful experience that illuminates qualities, emotions, or patterns you might not be consciously aware of. The point of the exercise is to observe yourself in order to notice what might not be apparent to you from the inside.

Drawing your emotions can help you connect to and express feelings that are difficult to put into words. It can also be a helpful release. There’s no right or wrong way to draw your emotions. Maybe you draw an object or scene or maybe you create an abstract image of colors and patterns – whatever helps you express what you’re feeling. You could also try a body map(this link opens in a new window/tab) , a tool that can help you connect with where you feel emotions in your body. Draw an outline of a body and use colors, patterns, and/or images to illustrate where emotions lie in your physical body.

Create Space for Emotional Rest

As you learned in the previous modules, it’s important to honor your ultradian rhythms by balancing work with regular rest breaks and engage in regular self-care to help balance continual stress by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system. In this module, we’ve expanded on the importance of balancing high-energy periods with rest by highlighting valuable strategies for connecting with your emotions. Another key component of emotional rest is sleep as it’s essential for emotional processing(this link opens in a new window/tab)  in the brain.

Emotions can be a lot of energy, and sometimes emotional work can be tiring – much like an intense physical workout. As vital as this work is to your overall well-being, it’s not meant to be constant – it often means spending just a few minutes here and there. Taking time for emotional rest is just as important as taking time for physical or mental rest. Your emotional rest could include moving your body; relaxing with a favorite book, podcast, or television show; baking or cooking; taking 10 minutes for yourself; or making time for weekly massages or therapy sessions. What alleviates symptoms of emotional exhaustion(this link opens in a new window/tab)  is bio-individual. If you’re not sure what to do, think about what sparks joy for you.