This post is part of my special Coaching Tips Series. This series was inspired by my clients and the core themes in their challenges. When we can apply these tips, we bring a lot of ease into our lives and step into our leadership.

In my life in general, and in my coaching work in particular, one of the things I have noticed is that we all struggle to identify our emotions. I’m also a big proponent for Emotions in the Workplace: they are already there so our job is to recognise them, allow them, then choose how we want to act.

For example, I’m angry, I let myself feel the anger. But do I want to act out of anger? Or out of radical candor, understanding, frustration? And if it’s still anger, am I going to act out of that icky revengeful “it’s all your fault” anger, or from that clean energy of “I’m so mad you did this and it’s not ok with me”?

But if we want to allow our emotions, it helps if we know what they are.

What exactly are we feeling? and how can we tell?

Fortunately, science can help us.

Check out this image

emotions amber rahim coaching

It reveals the where in your body you will notice sensations when you experience each of the different emotions, and the kind of sensation – hot or cold, and intensity. (and yes there are many subtleties here

So here’s my tip if you want to get better at identifying what you are actually feeling:

The Practice

Put the image somewhere handy (print it and hang it up or make it your screen saver or background)
When you feel something (relatively strongly) notice whereabouts in your body you feel sensations
Pay attention to what kind of sensation it is (metaphors/similes can be helpful here e.g. “it’s like a vice”)
Look at the image and see which figure most represents what you are physically feeling
Try on the name of the emotion that goes with that figure e.g. by saying I am feeling pride / anxious / ….
Look for resonance

(note: of course you might feel more than one emotion at the same time. that’s ok, just notice what you feel. There is no wrong answer here.)

Tips on what not to do:

Don’t get hung up on “getting it right”
Don’t explain or justify what you are feeling
Don’t judge yourself by the emotions that pop up (we all have some emotion that we think we don’t feel)

Over time, when we practice getting to know ourselves and actually take in the information that our bodies are providing us, this gets easier. Naming it right is not the goal. It’s the practice of paying attention that is important.

When we practice paying attention, we get the chance to choose how we want to act.

(Quick note: In this post I talk about the “Science behind coaching”, and specifically talk about emotions – the research references in this post are helpful).