“Our emotions unfold on a timeline…with a trigger that initiates an emotional experience, and ultimately results in a response” (Ekman, P., Ekman, E. 2014). This simple and clear definition becomes the basis for exploring and learning about those experiences and what may be behind them. Five foundational feelings (enjoyment, fear, sadness, disgust, and anger) are broken down into sub-feelings graded by intensity. Scrolling over them, typical reactions are shown which are labelled as constructive, ambiguous, or destructive.
It’s an extraordinarily delicate, thoughtful, and engaging piece of research. Having the ability to identify and describe how you are feeling and why is the first step toward emotional awareness.
Emotional awareness builds resilience, helping us cope with all manner of difficult situations. It is a bedrock of self, an ability to see the part you play in your emotions and what can be done to smooth the road, the journey. The goal of the Atlas is to educate and enable people ‘to gain control over what triggers your emotions and how you respond.’ Strategies are provided, emotional antidotes designed to create the calm mind that we all seek.
In session with my clients, and in my day-to-day life, I often see how emotional reactions cloud the present moment and can be disempowering, creating a sense of being unable to act. But as the Atlas teaches us, it is not the emotion itself, but the reaction it triggers in us that is problematic. Those actions/responses/reactions can change – in fact, our actions are one of the few things that we actually do control.
I’d really encourage you to check out Eckman’s work – it’s liberating to realise that the feelings you feel don’t have to be scary or debilitating, but rather, are simply a part of the rich tapestry of experiencing a human life. Also, please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you feel this article resonates with you in light of your situation.