#72 Learn to Label Emotions

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too

#72

Learn to Label Emotions

Far too many of us are in the habit of commenting only on the experiences of happy, sad, and mad. Indeed, some people only know those three emotions and have great difficulty articulating anything but.

Innate knowledge

We are born knowing how to emote. We laugh, cry, squirm, babble, etc., in perfect expression of our feelings. At some point, an adult in our life tells us to sit down, shut up, suck it up, pull yourself together, etc… and we are told not to do that thing which, comes so naturally. Consequently, we learn NOT to express ourselves effectively.

Vernacular

Making it more difficult is the way we learn to string words together in an effort to describe things. We may say “I feel like a maid” but ‘a maid’ isn’t a feeling so we really are not expressing feelings with this statement. We may say “I feel like you don’t care” and similarly, ‘like you don’t care’ isn’t a feeling. That’s me expressing what I think you feel.

Instead, we can learn to use emotion words and the sentences become more clear … “I’m really frustrated that I need to pick up after everyone” or “I’m not feeling very loved today”. In these examples, what we say is more easily digested by the listener because we are using literal language to express our feelings.

Variations

There’s more to life than happy, sad, and mad. There’s disappointment, frustration, defensive, betrayed, anxious, excited, nervous, and dozens of others. How would your communication change if you were able to say “I’m feeling pretty defensive right now” instead of something defensive and projecting?

Feelings

Feelings are neither right or wrong, they just are. Having said that, they don’t necessarily represent the truth. Someone can ‘feel’ stupid but that doesn’t make it true. We can get caught up in the feeling without validating if it is a fact or not. When we feel something that isn’t based on facts, it’s a clue for what we must work on. The less time we spend there, the better. Life is better when we concentrate on what is real.

When learning to express feeling more effectively, I recommend that you keep a list of emotions (there are thousands to choose from) handy and begin by describing your day with as many of those as possible. Think about your feelings before you express them to make sure the words you are using actually describe the sensation. Break the habit of happy, sad, mad and…

Learn to label emotions.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#105 Stop Complaining

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#105

Stop Complaining

I read that complaining was like emotional farting – a description that resonated with me and it turns out – that when we complain, it’s as if we are in a closed elevator – essentially impacting everyone in our vicinity with the negativity of our comments. Yes, complaining is contagious. When you are complaining, you are a black cloud of dust settling in, over, and around everything within earshot.

Second Nature

The adage “what we focus on … grows” and it’s indicated in physical science by looking at the way our brain sends electrical charges through our brain – eventually shortening the distance the charge travels and making it easier for the brain to think the way it is thinking. In this example, “grows” refers to the ease with which thoughts are triggered. When we complain a lot, complaining becomes second nature.

Based on this logic, the reverse would also be true. If we compliment – or notice the positive – over and over, they are the elements that become a natural part of our thought process.

Stress

Negativity begets stress… stress is hazardous to your overall health. When we are surrounded by complaining, stress levels increase. When we are complaining, stress is elevated. In both cases, the overarching effect on our system is negative which, in many cases – become another focus of our complaint.

Easy Street

Complaining is easy. We are hardwired to look for what’s wrong in life. It’s a mechanism that supports our survival and some complaining – is healthy. The truth is that some aspects of life feel negative and expressing frustration effectively is a necessity for good mental health. Constructively expressing the emotions we feel is more difficult than it appears.

Gratitude

The antidote to complaints is to recognize the good in each experience. Expressing gratitude for even the most difficult of scenarios is at the heart of healthy functioning. It is akin to finding the silver lining in every storm cloud and describing IT – instead of the horror of the storm. Noticing the good and allowing it to take center stage instead of complaining about the element that wasn’t perfect… can be where the focus goes. And ass it goes… “what we focus on… grows” so…

Stop Complaining.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#354 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

My goal is to share a daily life lesson, tip, or hack. They are the things I want my children to know and the things that I teach to clients. They are the things that make my life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#354

Cry it out

On the long running television show Grey’s Anatomy, the lead character Merideth has been known to “dance it out” with friends when full of intense emotion. That’s great strategy but it’s mostly great for fictional television.

Sometimes, in real life, we just have to let the tears fall. We were born knowing how to emote. Babies laugh and cry when they have something to express and somewhere along the line we are told to suck it up, dry up the tears, and pull up the boot straps. We are taught to repress something natural and innate. I am not suggesting that we have a meltdown in the middle of a supermarket but taking the time to cry if we are sad, deeply disappointed, or full of other emotion in an appropriate environment can be a game changer.

Crying has its benefits. In fact, it is postulated that crying activates the parasympathetic nervous system which stimulates a relaxation effect. Crying may solicit attention from others, rallying our support system and generating a sense of belonging. Our bodies naturally release oxytocin and endorphins in emotional tears; chemicals found to relieve physical pain. Those same chemicals are known to promote better moods so the simple act of crying may indeed, lighten our mood.

Most of us who have had ‘a good cry’ with solid sobs would probably attest that even though it was exhausting, we felt better afterward. The energy (emotion is energy) that we feel when we are tempted to cry is best released. If we don’t ‘cry it out’… the energy remains in our system and may be redirected via anger, passive aggression, or a related negative expression. Perhaps worse, is the theory that proposes unexpressed emotions contribute to other major health concerns such as depression, anxiety, and even cancers.

It takes courage and strength to move against the cultural norm; to develop a productive coping mechanism; and to face down feelings. Allowing yourself to cry is an act of bravery. And keep in mind that tears don’t have to be public to be productive so the next time you fill with emotion and get the urge to release it, remember to…

Cry it out.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.