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    Charting Emotions for Self-Knowledge: Developing an Expressive Chart for Relationships

    Have you ever looked back at situations in life where you felt overwhelmed and out of control with your emotions? We may feel like our emotional reactions to certain situations are done impulsively without thought, but there is a method to understanding our emotions and that method is charting. Charting one’s emotions is a way of gaining self-knowledge and understanding how past experiences with loved ones has potentially influenced our current emotional responses as adults. Developing an expressive chart can provide insight into our feelings, reactions, and possible solutions that allow us to choose how we want to react in the moment.

    When choosing a category to chart our emotions it is important to keep in mind the techniques that will provide the most beneficial outcome. The process of charting is not just about reflecting on the trauma or difficulties that have been experienced, it is also about understanding how to form healthier, productive relationships and gain clarity on potential solutions to emotional problems. Relationships are a great choice as a category to examine as there is a commonality between every unique relationship that should be acknowledged to understand ourselves better. Going back to the beginning of failed relationships is significant when trying to identify patterns of emotional responses that may still be occurring in our adult life.

    The baseline of this chart is a list of relationships from family members, friends, coworkers, and romantic partners. One by one, those listed should be assessed for the way the individual makes you feel and how the relationship has changed over the years. To make a thorough chart, the complete history of each relationship must be taken into account. Whether the individual is currently in your life or if they were once a part, understanding how they made you feel (positively or negatively) can give insight into the pattern of how you felt in similar situations and facilitate how you want to carry yourself through uncomfortable emotions.

    Once a comprehensive list of relationships has been established, it is essential to break up their distinct categories and examine their response style through questions. Let’s take a look at a few examples. Considering family members, the questions asked can include: How do they express themselves emotionally? Do they practice open communication? What does stress look like for them? How did this individual handle conflicts? With friends, it is beneficial to ask questions such as: How do you balance being close to each other yet also set boundaries? What did your time together look like? How did you find closure with an argument? In romantic relationships, one could dive deeper by asking: How was communication between the two of you? How did either partner handle rage or disappointment? What methods did you both use to express love?

    Once the answers to these questions are written down, the individual can take a step back to reflect and look for trends, positives, and negatives. A benefit of this process is that it allows the individual to be honest in recognizing their patterns and character traits when it comes to their relationships and the scenarios that come hand in hand with the circumstances. The past may have led them to certain unnecessary behaviors, associated negative emotions, or lack of communication which can inform their present day decisions and progress.

    Charting our emotions is a multi-faceted process in understanding ourselves and who we desire to be. It takes time to gain confidence, self-worth, and trust in our relationships, but this can be accomplished with dedication and focus. Being responsible for our own emotions and learning how to channel them correctly can lead us to better understanding and stronger connections with our foundation around us. Having a visualization tool like the suggested chart, can empower us to see growth and improvement within ourselves while simultaneously creating meaningful connections with others.

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