The Importance of Emotional Self-Awareness

Controlling one’s emotions is not easy, but it can be done! Self-awareness is the ability to pull back and recognize the feeling you are having. When you have an emotional response and are able to bring it into your awareness, the chances of handling it appropriately improve.

You can’t expect your awareness to magically appear, you need to will your awareness. The key is to decide with intention to be objective about your feelings. If you are not aware of your feelings and how to handle them, chances are you may be engulfed, suppressed, or resigned. Today, we are discussing these three elements of emotion; how to recognize them, and ways to control them.


What does it look (and feel) like to become engulfed by emotion? Some impulses seem to be easier to control than others. Anger, not surprisingly, is one of the hardest to control because it often prompts us to react. You likely have felt engulfed by anger at one time or another.

This is the feeling of adrenaline rushing that prompts you to react; often out of impulse. It can be hard to step back from an emotion that is engulfing you. In cases of anger, a cool down period is recommended before you react to allow your body to process and achieve some distance from this red-hot emotion.


We’ve all experienced the awkward and disquieting experience of being with someone who sits on their feelings. Perhaps you just spilled your heart out and shared your feelings about an experience you shared with this person. And in return you received a quiet response. You likely felt out of synch when this happened, or that your emotions were unwarranted. This is a case of suppressing feelings.

It turns out some misguided people mistake emotional self-awareness with emotional suppression. Willing your awareness of your emotions has nothing to do with suppressing them. As you become aware of your emotions you don’t stomp them out, you manage them.


Unlike people who are engulfed by their emotions, resigned people know what they are feeling. However, they do little to try and manage their emotions. For example, if a person is depressed they may recognize and talk about it but do little to take steps to fix and address the problem head-on. Despite clarity about their moods, people who resign to their feelings don’t recognize the power they have to alter them.

What can you do when you recognize these traits?

1. Come to a realization and acknowledge!

“This is anger I am feeling.” That simple self-statement opens the door to freedom. How? It gives you the option not to act on it. It gives you the option to keep it alive or to tone it down. Once an emotional response (like anger, or any other) comes into your awareness – once you pull back and acknowledge what you’re feeling – the chances of using that emotion to your advantage greatly improve.

Through emotional self-awareness, your emotions become tools in your hands allowing you to craft empathic interactions that would have otherwise been lost. The sooner you become intentional about tuning into your own emotions as you interact with others, the sooner you will experience the realization that you can monitor and manage your own emotions.

2. Remember: It’s your choice!

The freedom to choose. That’s the kind of freedom emotional self-awareness brings. Every emotion offers a choice. How will you react when you are presented with a situation? Remember that every feeling also has value. It can teach us something about ourselves. You determine how you will react, and how intense you let an emotion become within you.

Emotional self-awareness can be a challenge. We know that exercising control over our emotions is not always easy. But is becomes easier than we think once we conjure up the will to do so! Emotional self-awareness will give you control over your feelings, and the ability to choose how to handle each situation you are confronted with.

Would you say that you are most likely to be engulfed by your feelings, to suppress your feelings, or to resign to your feelings? Why? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!


  • jeff says:

    How do you think God has gifted the Christian to deal with their emotions? This verse gives me hope to implement some of the things mentioned in the article: For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7
    Left to my own devices i will be challenged with my emotional state; perhaps a question to consider: how can i partner with our God to let my challenging emotional state be easier (not necessarily easy)?

    • Lisa P. says:

      When I’m intensely angry, I need to get out of the situation and have a chance to be able to just cool down and reflect. My typical response is 2 leave the room and go into another room or to leave the house and come back later (20 minutes to an hour) . However, my ex-husband would tell me that I was acting like a nine-year-old and I needed to quit leaving. Many times he would follow me into the other room (pushing open the door and even grabbing my wrists) or chase me if I started to leave. He would not accept the fact I needed to leave the situation. Is leaving the situation (even leaving the house for a short time) an appropriate response? What might be other ways to handle a needed cool down when the other spouse doesn’t want to allow you to have this? He had fidelity issues (twice) and became increasingly aggressive to me (safety- and finally assaulted me in November) in the 2 1/2 yrs. we were married. I am in counseling and working on working on me.

  • Korinne says:

    Can you share with us healthy methods for controlling our emotions? I think it’s easy for many to recognize unhealthy reactions but don’t know healthy alternatives.

  • Jean simpson says:

    I have a lot of mixed emotions but I have learned instead of dwelling on them I say a prayer to and as God to take anything from me that I a feeling away from me if it’s going to cause me to stumble

  • Jarrod says:

    I think maybe suppressed and I don’t come up with the best solutions. I may be stomping them out

  • I have found that my emotional response to a particular situation is usually related to how much I want to or try to control the outcome. If I ask God to give me wisdom in the situation and surrender the outcome to God, I usually have more power to control my emotions. Definitely easier said than done. So this takes time in prayer & self searching to know myself & my feelings.

  • Patrick says:

    I am wondering if regular marijuana use inhibits our ability to exercise emotional self awareness? Asking for a friend.

  • Its important for one to know their emotional strength and weakness. and never let anyone know what is your emotional power. My boyfriend took advantage of me with knowing my emotional strength and made me weak to follow his rules.

  • I have been in two relationships which broke me, then I learnt to cope up and became a writer. Find out strength from your inner self and no one can stop you.

  • Jolie Andre says:

    I had a great career going on when I went through an extra marital affair. He used me for years and then I realised, I lost many things on my way. Took long years to recover.

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