Recognizing Emotions: Digging Deep to Identify the Real Emotion

Recognizing emotions digging deep to find the real emotion Amy Dodd Pilkington

Recognizing emotions and correctly identifying those emotions and causes is important. Growing up poor creates a mindset that you don’t outgrow. Sometimes that mindset does things to my mental health and I can connect my emotions to living in poverty. Yesterday threw me for a loop and I could not understand why. Now I do.

Analyzing my thoughts to identify emotions

If you followed me years ago when I blogged as atorturedsoul at All About Bipolar then you know I analyze my emotions and thoughts to identify triggers and learn to better cope and stay stable. I was confused as to why I had an emotional attachment to something material. It isn’t like me, but I was clearly emotionally attached.

Since I developed mobility issues our fifth wheel camper was no longer useful to me. I was unable to go up and down the steps to go to the bathroom and found myself staying in my bedroom all day. There was no point in going camping if all I did was stay in bed. We parked it and purchased a motorhome.

Sadness and feeling a sense of loss

We have not camped in the fifth wheel in over two years. It has just been sitting there, taking up space and losing value. We finally decided it was time to sell it. I was a little bit sad because it was a camper we had intended to travel in once we retired. We had plans for it, and those plans had changed because of my condition. I felt it was one more thing I had lost to my undiagnosed illness.

I was indeed sad because of that, but seeing the empty spot where it once sat and seeing it towed away behind someone else’s truck was a much heavier feeling than simple sadness. There was a profound sense of loss that wasn’t normal for me when related to a material object. I didn’t understand it.

Digging to recognize emotions

It took me some time to figure out why this was happening but I talked through all of it to figure it out. It is very important to me to understand why I feel deep emotions so I can keep everything in check. This is something that has worked for me for years so I don’t dare skip it. When I figured out why I felt this way it linked back to growing up in poverty.

Growing up poor means you understand that you must take care of things because they cannot be replaced. If you break something, you don’t get another one. If you lose something, it’s just gone. Many times having something means someone else did without. I sacrificed a lot growing up and I wouldn’t change that. However, I fear everything can disappear in an instance. Feeling secure in my financial circumstances just doesn’t happen for me no matter how much I tell others I am.

Recognizing emotions and analyzing emotional attachments

I knew a few years ago that I had an emotional attachment to our truck. We bought it new and paid it off. When our son became ill and needed seven surgeries in eight months, it was our safety net. It still had a lot of value and we borrowed against its value to weather the storm. It saved us during a financially draining time. My husband has wanted to sell it several times and I have refused each time.

This led to an attachment. It helped us take care of our son and get the care he needed without losing anything or suffering financially. That’s what I thought. I assumed the truck was a symbol of our son’s recovery because it helped us remain financially stable during a difficult time. I was wrong.

Digging deeper to identify the real cause

When the camper was pulled away I felt emotions I did not understand. There was no reason for me to be attached to it. I started trying to figure out why this was the case. The only other material object I was attached to was the truck so I started trying to figure out how they were similar.

We bought both new. We paid both off and they were fully ours. The truck and camper were both purchased new and paid off by us. Was that the similarity? Was it because I felt they were big accomplishments after living in poverty? That wasn’t it. Recognizing emotions often takes a lot of digging.

Identifying the root cause of my emotions

I dug a bit deeper. Both were free and clear. They both still held a decent bit of value. We had previously borrowed money through our bank using the truck’s title, but we had never borrowed against the fifth wheel. A light bulb clicked right about then. Recognizing emotions and their root causes is a big deal.

My husband is once again wanting to sell the truck. I told him he could do it but he would have to do it quickly before I changed my mind. (I think I have changed my mind.) Here’s the issue: The truck and camper still held value. I was proud of purchasing them new and paying them off and holding clear titles, but they provided a safety net.

Recognizing emotions and understanding correspondence to previous experiences

That was my attachment. Having these things provided a safety net. Those titles meant that if we were ever faced with an emergency situation such as my son’s medical issues we would be able to weather a storm. It would be able to save us if times became tough. These weren’t titles and possessions. They symbolized safety to me.

A big chunk of our safety net is gone. That’s how I see it. Having lived in poverty, you always fear returning to a life of poverty. You realize how easy it is, and it’s terrifying. Now, what happens if we find ourselves in a dire situation? What happens now that a big safety net is gone?

Recognizing emotions hiding as other emotions

The truck is old. It does still hold a little value and could be used to get us through something small. It could help us with a minor issue, but it wouldn’t be enough to save us from something like our previous hardship. The camper would have because it still held enough value. It’s gone. Our safety net is gone. That’s why I am sad, but it’s not really sadness. It’s fear presenting itself as sadness.

I have a terrible habit of converting emotions to other emotions. It’s an unhealthy coping mechanism and I struggle with it. This is another reason why it is important for me to analyze intense emotion. Understanding it all helps me stay on top of things and keep my emotions in an acceptable range. It works for me.

Deciding how to handle the identified root cause and emotion

Now that I know what the problem is, how do I deal with it? How exactly do you tell yourself that nothing bad will happen? You don’t because that would be an absolute lie. The only thing I can do is learn to keep that fear from becoming an overwhelming emotion. That’s just what I’ll do.

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♫ I was told when I got older all my fears would shrink ♫

…and you thought I couldn’t reason and rationalize. I spend a great deal of time doing just that and am more insightful than a lot of people I know.

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