Dealing effectively with your emotions develops balanced and more fully integrated emotional health, which is the key to a better life. We identify healthy emotional regulation as Emotional Intelligence. Identifying and naming our emotions provides the first step. Mental Health Professionals call this process labeling.
The ability to label our emotions is more challenging than it sounds. We often struggle to identify our exact feelings. To make things more difficult, at times the most obvious label leaves the emotion inaccurately described. We use the phrase, “I feel like…” in an attempt to label our feeling. However, to more accurately label the emotion, we must leave the “like” out of the labeling process. For example:
“I feel like I’m ready to give up,” can be better expressed by saying, “I feel exasperated.”
Another reason labeling is challenging is because most of us we taught to suppress our emotions. We are taught emotions are inappropriate and told to not cry, pout, yell or be angry, even though those expressions come naturally. Instead of learning to regulate the emotion for a more positive expression, parents or authorities punish us and force us to hold them back. Teaching children to regulate their emotions remains one of the best gifts you can give them.
We must overcome these perspectives in order to increase emotional intelligence. The more awareness you have with your emotions, the less likely you are to become overwhelmed by them. Even better, you become capable of helping your loved ones, co-workers, and neighbors when they experience intense emotions of their own.
Labeling your emotions helps you identify the unmet need or trigger about which your brain is warning you. You can process and meet that need if you are aware of it. Labeling also helps others assist you in meeting your needs.
Some important questions to ask when labeling emotions include, but are not limited to the following:
- What emotion am I feeling?
- To what does it feel similar?
- Where do I feel it in my body?
- How is it being expressed through action?
- How can you validate and give grace to yourself for having such emotion?
As you practice the exercise of labeling emotions, you will understand more about why those emotions continue to surface. So give it a try. Start with the less intense emotions and work your way up to more intense ones. You will be glad you did.
Featured image by Tengyart from Unplash.