What are your emotions telling you?

Avril Kid EQ in Action, Durban, Emotional Intelligence Durban, What are your Emotions Telling You, Man in a hoodie sitting on the floor with head resting on his hands and figurative emotions emerging from his head.
Written by: Avril Kidd
As we begin our educational journey, we are taught basic rules for spelling, reading, mathematics, etc. But very little, if any, time is spent exploring the meaning of emotions, which is what I would like to explore.

Our feelings are our most genuine paths to knowledge. [AUDRE LORDE]

In this article I’d like to return to the basic building block of Emotional Intelligence: Emotional Literacy.

As we begin our educational journey, we are taught basic rules for spelling, reading, mathematics, etc. But very little, if any, time is spent exploring the meaning of emotions, which is what I would like to explore.

What is Emotional Literacy?

Emotional literacy is the ability to recognise, name and communicate emotions. It is critical to self-awareness and self-management as it supports our ability to self-regulate and manage impulsive behavior. This, in turn, improves self-esteem, self-confidence and overall emotional growth.

Emotions give us insight into ourselves, so lets take a deeper look at 7 basic emotions, and assess how we can improve our
awareness of each.


Calmness is peace of mind, being free from agitation, excitement or disturbance, and is a state of tranquility and peace. Calmness enables us to face hardships in life and deal with difficult times. In order to achieve this state, there are various things you can do, such as …

  • close your eyes and breath deeply and slowly,
  • call your feel-good friend, preferably the friend that makes you laugh,
  • snuggle with your pet,
  • listen to your favourite music, and
  • exercise, even if it’s just a walk in nature.

What is your tool to achieve calmness and how does calmness or lack of calmnes saffect your behavior and your life?


Being confident is a feeling of certainty about something. It is felt when you acknowledge your own achievements and effort. When you can be your own cheerleader without validation from others.

Confidence helps you seek new opportunities as you trust yourself more. When last did you feel confident?

How could you increase your feeling of confidence and how could this impact your life?


This is an incredibly powerful emotion and may range from a wide range of reasons, eg: eating decadently last night, not completing your tasks on time, saying something hurtful or not standing up for some one.

Guilt can either move you forward in life or stop you from doing anything. You cannot thrive in life with guilt. We can’t change the past, and we can’t predict the future, but we do live in the present, so forgive yourself for what you can’t change now and do the best you can.

Our brains can only really focus on one thing at a time, so choose what you focus on wisely. A wise colleague once told me that nothing has any power other than the power you give it, so what are you giving power to!

How different would your life be, if you could let go of your guilt?


Being happy is a state of wellbeing and contentment. It comes from within, so only you can be responsible for your happiness.
To increase your happiness, …

  • do things you enjoy that give you pleasure,
  • be Engaged and interested in your activities and connection to others, and
  • find Meaning, the feeling that what you do matters.

Happiness is a choice, so what are you choosing?


Curious people are more likely to experience more happiness. Curiosity is an openness to acquiring new knowledge. It is a gateway to enthusiasm, excitement and passion.

The 6 Seconds change map, looks at how much more effective change initiatives could be if our teams were able to shift from judgement to curiosity. So the next time you find yourself jumping to judgement, try being curious instead.

What would your life look like if you could replace judgement with curiosity?


Fear alerts us to danger. It is a natural and very powerful emotion. It is telling us that something or someone we care about is at Risk.

Please remember that it is impossible to think logically when we are in a state of fear,so remember your techniques for navigating your way out of the emotional hijack.

What is your Fear? Is it helping you to be alert or is it stopping you from moving forward?


A final emotion I would like to share with you, is Hope! Hope is a feeling of positivity about the immediate or long-term future. It is particularly helpful when you’re facing difficult or challenging situations.

Hopeful people enjoy better health, have less depression and less anxiety. When we envisage a better future, we will be more motivated to take steps to make it happen.

There are numerous ways to increase hope …

  • consider practising gratitude,
  • look for meaning in the most challenging moments,
  • spend time with positive people.

What are you doing to be more hopeful and what would your life look like if you could increase hope?

How about a challenge?

My challenge to you is to start listening to your emotions and use them wisely to better understand yourself. When you experience an emotion, ask yourself “what it is telling me?” Also be cognisant of the impact your emotions may be having on others, ie. emotional contagion.

I would love to hear from you on what you discover about yourself in exploring your emotions or any other insights that you may have on this topic.

Remember the wise words of Lao Tzu:

He who knows others is wise. He who knows himself is enlightened.