EMOTIONAL CONSCIOUSNESS: what it is, characteristics, examples and 5 activities to work on it

  • Jul 26, 2021
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Emotional awareness: what it is, characteristics, examples and activities

Emotions have allowed human beings to adapt to the environment and ensure the survival of our species throughout evolution. All of our emotions contain a message and move us to action. Knowing them and being able to manage them is not an easy task, at least in some circumstances, but it contributes very significantly to psychological well-being.

Being aware of our own emotions and the emotions of others is the first step to be able to manage them. Think about how many times you have stopped to think about your emotions, have you located them in the form of bodily sensations and have thought about the message they want to convey to you.

In this Psychology-Online article we tell you what is emotional awareness: characteristics and examples.

You may also like: Emotional empathy: what is it, characteristics and examples


  1. What is emotional awareness
  2. Characteristics of emotional awareness
  3. Examples of emotional awareness
  4. Activities to work emotional awareness

What is emotional awareness.

Emotional awareness refers to

knowledge and recognition of one's own emotions and the emotions of others. After looking at the definition of emotional awareness, let's talk about levels.

In 1987, Lane and Schwartz developed a theoretical model that includes five levels of emotional awareness whose complexity increases as we move up the level. The same authors also participate in the development of an evaluation instrument called “Scale of Levels of Emotional Awareness ”(Lane, R.D., Quinlan, D.M., Schwartz, G.E., Walker, P.A. and Zeitlin, S.B., 1990)[1] in which 20 scenes are described posing situations that affect two people to later ask how both people would feel. Next, we briefly explain what these consist of five levels of emotional awareness.

  • Level 1. Body sensations: this first level is limited to the physical sensations that cause the emotion: "I have a knot in my stomach", "I am not feeling well", etc.
  • Level 2. Tendency to action: in the second level the person already prepares the action, but still without having identified the emotion as such. For example, "I am not feeling well and I want to leave here."
  • Level 3: Unique Emotion: this third level is in which the emotion is identified as such "I am afraid", "I am surprised", etc.
  • Level 4. Mix of emotions: at this level our emotion is mixed with the emotion of the other person. "If they give me the best worker award and not my partner, I will feel happy and he will feel sad."
  • Level 5. Combination: this last level would represent the combination of mixtures of emotions. For example: “If they give me the best worker award and not my partner, I will feel happy and he will feel sad. Even so, I will also feel worried about him and he will surely be proud of me ”.

Characteristics of emotional awareness.

Why is emotional awareness so important? What benefits does it bring us? Emotional self-awareness implies, following Daniel goleman[2]:

  • Know what emotions we feel and why we feel them.
  • Know what links they have our feelings, thoughts, words and actions.
  • Become aware of how our feelings influence our performance.
  • Have a basic knowledge of our values ​​and objectives.

Examples of emotional awareness.

In our daily life we ​​can find many examples related to the recognition of our emotions. In some cases, this recognition is simple and in others it may cost us more to become aware of them. Let's look at some examples of emotional awareness:

  • Imagine that you have to make a presentation in public. Before this moment you will notice a lot of nerves, that is, you have some anxiety. It will not even cost you to identify in which parts of the body you are feeling this anxiety: “I am afraid to bad, I have a lump in my throat ”,“ I am worried that I am not able to explain myself well, my mouth is dry ”, etc. Knowing this is an example of emotional self-awareness.
  • Now think about the pandemic situation we are experiencing: what emotions are you experiencing? Perhaps in this example the emotional recognition is more complicated, since we are feeling many emotions at the same time: anger, sadness, frustration… Separating and identifying them is going to be a more complicated task, which is going to affect their management and is also an example of emotional self-awareness.
  • Emotional awareness also encompasses the recognition of the emotional states of others. Think, for example, of the health workers we see interviewed on television: What emotions are you feeling when you talk about the collapse in ICUs? Is it the same emotion that appears when patients are discharged? What types of emotions do you identify in both cases?
  • Finally, on a more everyday level, we can be aware of how does a friend feel when we have made a comment that may have offended you. You may feel anger and we feel ashamed for our act.

Activities to work emotional awareness.

To work on emotional awareness, some activities of various types can be carried out. Here are some guidelines and activities to work on emotional awareness:

1. Psychoeducation

At a more theoretical level we can document and read about emotions and emotional functioning, know what types of emotions exist, etc. This will allow us to perform other more practical exercises to become aware of our emotions.

2. Observation

Observation is a way of collecting information about ourselves and our environment. Practice observation to become aware of the emotions of others and use self-observation to become aware of your own. Think about where and how you feel them: "I feel heartburn", "I have a racing pulse", and so on. Pay attention to the bodily sensations you feel, your thoughts, your reactions and pay attention to non-verbal language to interpret and be aware of the emotions of others.

3. Labeling of emotions

Name the emotions that you feel and those that you think others feel. Also try to connect the emotion with the causes that provoke it: sometimes it will be easier (“I'm nervous because I have to speak in public "and in others it will be more complicated" I'm nervous and I don't really know why "). Here you will find one list of emotions.

4. Situations

Another of the emotional self-awareness exercises is the following: consider some situations such as failing an exam, announcing a pregnancy, getting your best friend married, the death of a relative, etc. And think about the emotions that people often feel in those situations. On the contrary, make a list of emotions and pose situations that provoke them.

5. Face chart

This task can be helpful when working on emotions with children. We can offer them a sheet of paper with a series of painted circles and ask them to paint a happy face on the first, a sad face on the second, and an angry face on the third. In this way they will think and become aware of what expressions we use when we experience each emotion.

In this article on How to develop emotional intelligence, you will find more activities to work emotional awareness.

This article is merely informative, in Psychology-Online we do not have the power to make a diagnosis or recommend a treatment. We invite you to go to a psychologist to treat your particular case.

If you want to read more articles similar to Emotional awareness: what it is, characteristics, examples and activities, we recommend that you enter our category of Emotions.


  1. Lane, R.D., Quinlan, D.M., Schwartz, G.E., Walker, P.A. and Zeitlin, S.B. (1990). The Levels of Emotional Awareness Scale: A Cognitive-Developmental Measure of Emotion. Journal of Personality Assessment, 55(1 and 2), 124-134.
  2. Goleman, D. (1998). The practice of emotional intelligence. Barcelona: Kairos.


  • Iriarte Redín, C., Alonso-Gancedo, N. and Sobrino, A. (2006). Relations between emotional and moral development to take into account in the educational field: proposal of an intervention program. Electronic Journal of Psychoeducational Research, 4,1 (8), 177-212

Emotional awareness: what it is, characteristics, examples and activities

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