Last week I did a webinar for a local company on managing stress in difficult times (difficult times being an understatement for many right now.) The first thing we discussed was calling a thing a thing.
For most of us, the question of “How are you?” gets a quick response of “Fine, thanks.” and we move on with our day. Very rarely does that question have any more impact than a passing gesture or social norm.
Right now that needs to change. We need to acknowledge what we’re feeling and give it a name.
Contrary to popular belief, naming an emotion does not give the emotion more power. In fact, the reverse is true. When we name and acknowledge what we’re feeling it gives us more power and a greater sense of control.
Most of us can name the big 3 emotions (happy, sad, angry.) Some people have a richer emotional vocabulary and can name the 6 in the center of the emotional wheel (fear, anger, surprise, happy, sad, disgust.) Did you know that all of these other colors and flavors of emotions exist? There are hundreds of ways of describing what you’re feeling; and if you’re anything like me, probably a dozen or so of those are happening at any given moment these days!
Use this tool. Explore the many different ways of describing what you’re feeling. Maybe you’re exuberant or peaceful in some moments while in others you’re empty and worried. Whatever it is, name it. Share it with a trusted person in your inner circle or in a journal or even out loud to yourself. In a time when so many things are feeling out of control, you can regain a bit of that by naming whatever it is you’re feeling.
Let’s do away with the “How-are-you? // Fine-thanks.” days.
PS – the Feelings Wheel above was created by Dr. Gloria Willcox. It’s a great way to get clear on what you’re feeling, and also a great tool to use with kids to help them learn to name their emotions.