Emotional Labeling

There’s a word for what you’re feeling. Now use it. 

Most of us, when we’re feeling angry or sad or stressed, are reluctant to put those feelings into words out of fear that it’ll make a bad situation even worse.

Yet neuroscience tells us that the opposite is true.

Emotions originate from a powerful, primitive part of our brain often called the limbic system.

Attempts to suppress our emotions using the prefrontal cortex are doomed to failure. The limbic system is just too strong.

And yet, although it’s strong, the limbic system is also kind of stupid. You can sap it of much of its power simply by naming the emotion you’re feeling. If you say (or write) “I’m feeling sad” or “I’m angry,” or “I’m depressed,” the brain shifts its focus away from the limbic system to the prefrontal cortex, where the description originates.

So, the next time you’re feeling bad, don’t try to ignore or suppress what you’re experiencing. Use emotional labeling to take some of the sting out of destructive emotions.