Naming Your Feelings is How You Tame Them
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Naming Your Feelings is How You Tame Them

Naming Your Feelings is How You Tame Them

Thoughts drive our behaviors, and the more effectively we can communicate our thoughts and feelings, the more rewarding and fulfilling our lives become.  

None championed this more than my dear friend, mentor, and coach, Marty L. Ward, who passed away nearly a year ago. Marty cut to the chase and drilled things down quickly, especially when it came to feelings. She was a social entrepreneur and expert in her field. She asked the right questions to help her clients process their feelings and get the results they were looking for.  

Whenever I said, “I think,” or “maybe” or “I’m not really sure,” she’d gently remind me that I knew exactly what I wanted, and I needed to communicate the ideas and feelings in my head and heart. 

These words, “Just say it, stop beating around the bush and get to the point,” ring in my head every time I’m not honoring myself by sharing my feelings.

Research suggests that if we don’t have a sufficient emotional vocabulary, it’s difficult to express and effectively communicate our needs and get the support we need from others. Learning to identify our emotions is a key step to disarming them. When a name is connected to the feeling, it tends to diffuse the charge or energy behind that feeling. Psychologist Dan Siegel says, “You have to name it to tame it.”

Life is not easy. Especially these past few years with all the change and social isolation we have experienced amidst the global pandemic. Now more than ever, I’ve noticed the robotic movement of those around me. People appear to be numb, just going through the motions of everyday life. I can feel the emotions building within our community. It’s time that we start feeling and communicating again.

In her new book, “Atlas of the Heart,” Brené Brown shares that language is our portal to meaning-making, connection, healing, learning and self-awareness. She goes on to further explain that when we don’t have the language to talk about what we’re experiencing, our ability to make sense of what’s happening and share it with others is severely limited.  

Although I am not a mental health counselor, I know from personal experience, research and training that our thoughts, feelings, and emotions all work together. When we don’t understand how our emotions impact our thoughts and decisions, we become disconnected.  

If you're interested in improving your emotional vocabulary or helping your child or grandchild, an A-Z feelings list can help you get started. Experts suggest making flash cards with the word on one side and the definition on the other.

We have between 10-50 thousand thoughts per day, and 80-90% of them are negative. Thoughts drive our behaviors, and the more effectively we can communicate our thoughts and feelings, the more rewarding and fulfilling our lives become.  

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