Figure with outstretched arm holding a banner for the seven day stretch your self-awareness challenge banner
Calendar blocks indicating day six of the seven day stretch your self-awareness challenge

The Emotion Mandala

Blue mandala

Honing the ability to express your needs, concerns, compliments, and opinions effectively will make you feel “heard.” It also helps you work through intense or difficult situations.

Many people struggle with the vocabulary they use express their current state of emotions. For example, they create a habitual response to the question, “How are you?” and rarely deviate from it. Do you get stuck in that rut?

Emotions are one of those things in life where “right” or “wrong” doesn’t apply. Precision is unnecessary. However, there is a spectrum for, or shades of, every base emotion.

Think of an emotion as an instinctive internal response to any experience. It sets off physical, chemical, and electrical events inside of you. Your brain assigns an emotion to every experience, which triggers reactive habits for how we think and act when presented with that situation. You may not even notice your emotions.

A feeling, on the other hand, is the product of awareness of the internal emotional experience. This perception makes it real or tangible to you, since it also incorporates physical sensations.

At this point, you make cognitive assessments of a situation. This step allows you to override any habits your brain put into place for how you interpret a situation and lets you decide what to think, believe, say, or do. See why getting to this extra step matters?

Self-Awareness Challenge of the Day

To recap, emotions are raw and uncontrolled. Feelings are accessible and malleable on a conscious level.

Just like any skill, self-regulating your feelings requires an investment of time and practice. And if you want to take a crack at controlling your feelings, you must first master awareness of them.

On to today’s challenge! Set at least 3 alarms on your watch, phone, or another device to prompt you to stop what you’re doing at a variety of times throughout the day. Then, identify one word to describe how you feel in that moment.

Here’s the real challenge: go deeper than the base emotion. Use the Emotion Mandala below to help you expand your vocabulary. You’ll find base emotions at the center of the mandala. Label your feelings at least one level out from the center. Go as far from the center as possible within the same color. Zoom in as needed to see the labels.

Mandala illustrating spectrum of emotions at different levels