Many of us assume that our emotions are simply by-products of the situations we find ourselves in. But according to Carlsson, our emotions are actually much more predictable than we might think – and getting to know our emotional patterns is a great first step in understanding how our minds work.
“Our emotions actually act like a compass,” Carlsson explains. “They can be incredible allies – they can really help us to understand who we are. The emotional reactions that we have to situations, people, things or behaviours form our emotional identity. And that emotional identity is fluid – we can learn more about ourselves and our emotional patterns, and in doing so we can change the ways that we react.”
“Cultivating an emotional identity is essentially knowing who we are through the lens of our feelings.”
While you might find it easy to identify when you’re feeling anxious, happy or sad, for example, getting to know your emotional identity is a little more tricky, Carlsson explains. Because many of the emotional patterns we exhibit stem from the experiences we had in childhood –you might react to failure with feelings of anxiety, for example, if you were scolded for bad performance as a child – many of us don’t even know we have emotional patterns in the first place.