A rose by any other name” may smell just as sweet, but feelings need to be named properly if you are going to act wisely.

Feelings fool us.

Improperly named feelings fool us all at least some of the time.

Many feelings mask other less acceptable feelings.  Anger almost always is used to hide shame, hurt, or fear.   Here’s a challenge. Think carefully about the last time you got rip-roaring mad.  What did you feel right before the anger visited?

If you cannot find an igniting feeling, think more deeply.  Think mostly about if what happened right before anger visited that made you a doubting Thomasina or a challenged Charlie, can you name that thing.

Uncertainty about your worth as a person creates pain and that pain can become anger.  It can also become shame and then shame can become anger, self-hatred, or despair about your worth.

Reality check about shame:  One group of therapists believe parents are the main source of shame.   This has created a problem for everyday  parents and their kids, but big bucks for many therapists.   The problem?

Actually, there are two problems prompted by this group. The first is confusing good enough although hurtful parenting with abusive parenting. Parents have two major responsibilities. Keeping a child safe and teaching the child what is needed to get along in the real world.  Doing so cannot be done without a bit of parental behavior that inflicts pain.

Here’s a common example.  Even the most nurturing parent, one who is always calm, cool and collected, will throw a hissy fit if a toddler is running toward the street.  Most will swat the child’s behind if they catch the child before a car punishes the child.  The parent’s fear has turned to anger.

This thinking has also lead to seeing punishment as abuse. Punishment is a useful behavior shaping tool; only abuse punishments are abusive.

Here’s another example. One you will get easily.  It is a common complaint of many.  You worked very hard to get good grades. You got three A’s and one B.  Your loving parents shrugged off the A’s and asked why the B. You are hurt by the unfairness of your parent’s asking about the B and not praising the A. Criticism that seems unfair almost always creates resentment.

The second problem is also connected with the first problem.  That problem? Over-sensitivity to useful pain particularly useful shame.  Shame was designed by nature to keep people from doing the unthinkable.

This view of shame is put forth by Jerome Kagan, Harvard human development researcher.  It will make sense to any of you with a younger sibling.  He says shame starts visiting us when we are about three years old. Also at that time, younger siblings get big enough to start messing in your stuff and making you  a bit pissed off.  Shame keeps you from killing the interfering brat, and keeps you from the sin of Cain who did kill his brother Abel.

The only reason to feel shamed is if you are doing the unforgivable. What is unforgivable – hurting or killing another being, depriving another of what they need to live.

Properly naming feelings puts you in control. As Starhawk, an Ameican writer points out: “What we name must answer to us; we can shape it if not control it.

That is enough to explain the reason why naming feelings is part of feeling awareness. Here are the directions for how to do it.

Naming a feeling


Next session moves on to the Second skill – measuring feelings. Why? So you can spot when a bossy feeling is trying to take over and get you to do things you will regret.

As always thank you for all you do including liking, commenting, or sharing.




I often use these prompts to spark my posts.  They can also be used to improve your critical thinking is the heart of emotional intelligence.

You can think about them as they are stated or use them to spark other thoughts which is what I usually do. Most can be related to Emotional Fitness. How? Well here is the prompt that connects to this post. I’ll answer it and tell you how I relate it to Emotional Fitness.

Grand Slam: The World Series starts tonight! In your own life, what would be the equivalent of a walk-off home run? (For the baseball-averse, that’s a last-minute, back-against-the-wall play that guarantees a dramatic victory.)

How this relates to emotional fitness and today’s post.  Any feeling that I can keep from bossing me is a home run. Naming the feeling adds to my chance of rounding the bases.


All the handouts for this course are being posted at the store so you can download them for free. You will find lots of other  offerings including inspirational quotes or more EFTI exercises. Go there and subscribe to be notified of new additions.


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Thank you and stay strong.

Cartoon IMAGE BY ponderingprinciples  all others by EFTI.


    • You make my day over and over again. I want to do a book for teaching the under six crowd some basic emotional fitness skills, then six to puberty. Right now, however, I am working on one for teens at the moment. When I get to the younger two books, I’d love to have you contribute some stories. Do you teach the kids self-soothing skills. Are you following the course. I want nannies and child care workers to get a certificate of completion to add to their resume, but most of all I think the skills will make their jobs easier. Thank you again for your support.

      • I believe teaching children to recognize and control emotions is a huge part of my job. Right now we (my son and I ) care for two children with explosive tempers. We have been trying to help them understand the feelings and appropriate ways to handle it. It’s tough because they are already 4 and 5, so they have been dealing with it for a long time. It’s easier when I start watching kids from birth!

      • I don’t follow any program, really. I just help the child calm down and talk about what he/she is feeling and help them understand that it’s okay to have the feelings. Then, we talk about ways to cope with them.

Agree or disagree, comments are always welcomed.

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