How to Identify Limiting Emotional Patterns
Updated: Oct 10
How is your emotional state today? Stop reading for a moment, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths while scanning how you are feeling.
Keep in mind, feelings are temporary states, not fixed permanent traits. We can often stay fixated on feelings for longer than serves us, rather than let them go. On average a feeling comes and goes in 90 seconds- unless we cling to it.
We can think of certain emotions like primary colors, meaning the pure ones that are less complex and not yet blended. Experts on the topic debate a definitive list but we can consider these emotions to be pretty primary:
Easy to notice what you want more of right?
Unless you've been manic, it's safe to assume that everyone would be cool with having more joy or excitement in their life. There are not typically patterns of joy or excitement holding us back so we'll skip those for now.
Surprise is a mixed bag but doesn't create self limiting patterns either. Disgust is no fun but again there doesn't tend to be tangled emotional patterns here. There can be some pleasure associations in disgust but that is some shadow material for another day.
This leaves 5 core emotions that often create self limiting beliefs or hold us back. As we dive into our self exploration we do well to consider our relationships to these typical emotions patterns.
The below lists are not exhaustive but are a great starting point to see which of the "less pleasant" emotional patterns are controlling our lives to a greater or lesser extent. You can also think of these as toxic emotional residues that clog up our system.
Not being enough
Being too much
Making a mistake
That I am flawed, broken, or damaged
Not being liked
Not being loved
Being worthy or not being worthy
What other people think of me
Looking stupid, dumb or incompetent
Having no money
Running out of money
Not being in control
Being in control
Not doing enough
Doing too much
Not being supported
(I feel bad about)
Past actions/things I have done
Having money/being wealthy (especially when others in the world are suffering)
Having no money/being poor (especially when others around you are well off)
Being happy/joyful/prosperous (especially when others in the world are suffering)
Being sad/depressed/lonely (especially when others around you are great)
Doing things just for fun
Not doing enough
(I AM bad because of)
Myself My body My sexuality My sexual preferences My actions/past actions My family
A group I belong to
My beliefs My education My accomplishments or perceived lack thereof My life situation My job/work My success/lack of success Having money Not having money My ethnicity Things that have happened to me
With myself With someone else
With how people act
With things that happened to me in the past
About a perceived injustice to myself About a perceived injustice in the world/society About a perceived injustice to someone else
Over how a situation turned out That things went wrong That things did not turn out how I had hoped
About my future About life About a specific situation
About the loss of someone or something Feeling trapped/limited by...
My past My current situation My upbringing My ethnicity
Which of these feel true or charged for you?
Try some journaling or meditation on those as starting point. When was the last time you felt like that? The first time? This exercise can help you gain more insight and control of your life.
Becoming aware of these patterns is the first step towards letting go of the hold they have on you.