Emotions and self-improvement are tightly intertwined. How you feel about things - yourself included - comes in to play from the introspective start of the journey right through to the carrying our your plan for improvement. It doesn't seem healthy to me to either deny or be fully controlled by emotion alone. Of course, if that's what you want to be, don't let me stop you.
I'm going to break up the topic of emotions into two separate sub-categories: introspection and in action.
Emotions in Introspection
When you're trying to figure out what it is you want to change about yourself - before you ever get to the how's and whys - you're going to need to figure out how you feel about yourself first. So how do you feel about yourself? Don't allow yourself to take the easy answer. Pick up your emotions and examine them.
When I was a teenager I remember having a really bad day. At the end of that day as I laid on my bed staring at the ceiling with tears streaming down my face all I could think about was how much I hated who I was and it needed to change. I was too young to really know what it was that I thought I hated - but it wasn't my whole being. Looking back I can tell you that I hated being weak, I hated not knowing how to fix my problems, I hated being sad so much, I didn't hate who I was because I wasn't some irredeemable villain. I was just a sad and angry teenager.
I wanted to change back then because I knew deep down that I had the ability to rise above my experiences. I knew that I could be a better person than how I normally acted on a daily basis - I just had no idea how to get there. Now I know it starts with introspection and examination of the fundamentals of my emotions and how I feel about myself.
Before you can change anything you need to understand and accept yourself. How can you go about changing yourself for the better if all you can find is self-loathing and hate? No matter what changes you believe that you need to make it should always find a firm basis in love - and love comes from understanding and acceptance. Plain and simple.
Once again, feel free to disagree. I won't be offended and I always like to try and understand how other people view the world.
Emotions In Action
Emotions 'in action' sounds a bit odd, but emotions do influence how you act and react in certain situations. What I am referring to is a constant vigilance of how you feel so that you can act and react in ways that you want rather than thinking to yourself later 'why the hell did I do/say that?'. Vigilance over regrets.
Even though one of my goals is to be a more understanding and caring person to my fellow human beings, I still find myself being annoyed and petty at times. I always feel bad afterwards, but unless I am aware of how I am feeling I more likely to act on these feelings.
Keeping an emotional inventory as you go through the day can help minimize these incidents so that you can move forwards on the journey of self-improvement. There are times when I come to work and I know I'm not in a very good mood. It's hard to tell because I will often smile even when I'm grumpy. On these days when I am aware of my tendency towards not being nice I give myself a few extra seconds to respond to people.
Emotions in action is just the ability to take the self-inventory as you go. Being aware of how you feel at any given moment can make it easier to interact with others in a way that makes you happy with yourself and in the end being happy is really what self-improvement is all about - isn't it?