An Emotional Fitness Training Name to Tame Exercise to strengthen your Emotional Intelligence so you will better control when bad, mad, or sad feelings. The wrong name increases the hurt of such feelings.
A rose by any other name may smell as sweet, but re-naming some feelings takes away their thorns. The mental health professionals try to get you to change your feelings by “re-framing” or “transforming” your thoughts about what is happening. The Narrative Therapists do so by “re-storying.” Their idea is that much of what hurts our hearts are the stories we tell ourselves about what is happening and how that makes us feel. Re-storying begins with finding the right name for what we feel.
Here is an example related to self-esteem: “I’m a failure” tells one story; “I failed a test today” tells another; “The Fear of Failure Bug Shutting Down My Brain” tells even a richer story.
Here’s another example related to depression: I’m depressed” versus “Depression is Visiting Me.”
Here is one related to how we name the behavior of others: “You’re mean” versus “The Mean Part of You Made Me Feel Attacked.”
When a trouble visits us and makes us sad or angry, naming it carefully dilutes its power; as the poetess Starhawk notes: “What we name must answer to us; we can shape it if not control it.”
EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE TIPS ABOUT NAMING FEELINGS
Tip one: The more carefully a troubled feeling is named, the more you shape it, understand it and control it.
Tip two: A carefully named feeling has a rating attached to its name: “911 Stress” as opposed to “Stressed” or “Boiling Over Anger” as opposed to “Heating up a Bit” or “Deep Dark Blues” as opposed to “Down In Dumps A Bit.”
Tip three: A carefully named feeling also says something about the reasons why it has decided to visit you. The reasons why vary from situation to situation but often alert you to patterns of problem feelings or behavior. Examples:”911 Stress Because No One is Helping Me” or “Heating Up A Bit Because You Keep Interrupting Me.” “Down in the Dumps A Bit Because I just Turned Forty” or “Runaway Panic Because This is Harder Than I Thought.”
Tip four: Modeling does work. When you start naming your troubled feelings in more helpful ways, you are teaching others to think about properly naming their. This is particularly useful for teaching children to become skilled at naming their feelings.
Tip five: The younger the child, the more you should name what you think they are feeling but in ways that make two important points: (1) Feelings are part of them; (2) feelings come and go which is why Emotional Fitness Training speaks of them as visitor. Some examples: Not “You’re Angry” but “Anger is Visiting You” or not “You are scared” or “Scared?” but “The Fear Monster has come calling.”
Tip six: If you try to give someone else’s feelings a name, never insist yours is the right name. Instead, hope they will object to your name for their feeling. If that happens, you can ask how they would name what they are feeling. Doing so shows respect, but also starts the person thinking. Emotional Intelligence begins in thinking about what you are feeling.
As always, most Emotional Fitness Training tips are not easy to apply. Peace on Earth would be a reality if that were true. However, slowly putting them into practice works.
To put the above tips into practice, think of a feeling that is troubling you and find three separate rating names for it. One name should be when it first comes calling, the second for when it is growing strong enough to be bothersome, and the third when it controls you. Then spend a day or two just applying these names. When that begins to happen naturally, add something about the reasons why.
Two simpler steps: (1) add the word “The” in front of whatever feeling visits you at any moment; (2) add the words “is visiting” to whatever you are feeling at any moment. “Anger is visiting” or “Sadness has come to call” Doing so starts the naming habit and makes your brain think about what is going on.
Meanwhile, stay strong by remember what matters, finding time to laugh and play, be with beauty, practice kindness and to say “Thank you” as often as you can.
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