How to Tell if a Feeling is Genuine (or if it’s a mask!)

Do you ever feel uncertain about your own emotions?

“Am I really happy right now, or is this just a mask?”

“Do I actually want this, or am I just subconsciously sabotaging myself again because someone told me to do it differently and I hate being told what to do?”

When you haven’t been in touch with your emotions (and sometimes even when you have) it can be difficult to connect with them and trust that what you’re thinking and feeling are aligned with the life you want to be living. It’s too easy to second guess ourselves and doubt our intuition…

So what can you do when you’re not sure if an emotion is genuinely something you’re feeling or if it’s just another block?

I’m going to give you two tools to uncover the truth behind what’s going on. They’ll be most effective if you start with the first one to get in tune with your body and really feel where you are physically, and then dive into the second exercise to open up to the answers your heart already knows (that your self-doubt is drowning out).

Exercise 1: Step Into the Moment by Connecting with Your Body

Note: If at any time you feel dizzy or lightheaded, or if you know you have a breathing condition that will make this unsafe, please stop this exercise or talk it over with a healthcare professional. That said, this is a simple and generally safe practice.

This will be such a surprise for those of you who have been following me for a while (NOT), but we’re going to start by noticing the breath.

I want you to just notice your next inhale and exhale. There’s no pressure, no need to force them or change them. Just notice. How does your breathing feel?

Is it fast? Slow? Shallow? Deep?

Does it feel choppy, like you have some jitters? Weak, like you’re tired? Harsh, like you’re stressed or angry?

When you’re ready, I want you to inhale normally, and then exhale just a tiny bit longer than you would have.


With your next inhale, close your eyes and put your hand on your heart and ask:

“What do I truly feel about ____?”

Allow any answer that comes up to be the right answer. Just trust it. It’s okay if it doesn’t make sense.

Contemplate the response for a few breaths and then move on to the second exercise when you are ready.

If you don’t get an answer during Exercise 1, don’t worry. Surrender to the flow, let it be playful. There’s no need to win here. Come back when you feel playful again.

Exercise 2: Talk It Out

This is where the journaling, meditation/contemplation, or talking to yourself or someone else come in. I prefer journaling through these things, but you do whatever works best for you!

I’m going to give you a list of questions to get you started, and I want you to pick 1-3 of them and start answering them with the results of Exercise 1 in mind.

This is your practice, you can make up your own questions and do whatever feels right. These are just to get you started!

If you want to get to know your emotions, just like getting to know a new person, you’ll have to spend some time with them, ask a couple questions, and be a genuinely attentive listener!

Guiding Questions:

What do I think this feeling is?

What do I think this feeling should be? Why? Who expects me to feel that way?

What do I not want to feel?

Where in my body do I feel this feeling?

Is it comfortable, or uncomfortable?

What does this feeling make me want to do?

How does it make me feel physically?

Do I believe I’m feeling ____? Why or why not?

I believe I’m feeling _____, but that doesn’t make any sense. Why does the feeling need to make sense?

Why doesn’t the feeling make sense? Why does that bother me?

Do I enjoy feeling this way?

What other emotions might I notice if this feeling just disappeared right now?

How do I feel about those potential underlying emotions? (Yes, I just asked you how you feel about feeling a feel. You’re probably not even surprised, I just wanted to let you know I do know I’m doing it. You’re welcome.)

Why do I want to label this feeling so badly?

Why do I care if it’s genuine or a mask?

What would I do if it was genuine?

What would I do if it was just a mask?

What do I want to do?

Does the thought of doing what I want to do scare me? Why?

What initiated my doubt around the realness of this feeling?

Did something specific spark this doubt?

What do I NOT want my heart to tell me right now?

Let me know what you come up with!

Keep thinking through this as it feels right, and do your best to be open to the responses that come up for you. Trusting yourself is a learned practice, so don’t give up on it!

And, as always, if you get stuck, let’s talk through it! Reach out to me on Instagram or in the comments below.

Much love,

Jessica Peña