“Naming an emotion begins the process of regulating and reflecting on it.” Dr. Sue Johnson
Brene Brown’s research shows that on average a person can only name three emotions as they are experiencing them.* It’s time for all of us to work on expanding our emotionally vocabulary!
Let’s start with being more aware of your emotions. Take time (only 2-5 minutes!) to write down each emotion you remember feeling everyday. Here are some tools that might be helpful in the process:
- Google an emotion wheel – Once you have the emotion wheel, you start by exploring the emotions in the middle of the wheel and then working your way outwards until you find the emotion that most accurately describes how you are feeling.
- Feelings posters – Try and match what you are feeling with a face and or an emotion. Write it down.
- Deck of emotion cards – There are a lot of different ones out there but my favorite deck is called Mixed Emotions by Petra Martin and Kris Wiltse. I love these cards because the visuals are stunning and feel so true to me as a visual person and they even have synonyms listed at the bottom of each card.
- Thesaurus – We may not be able to name exactly what we are feeling but we may be able to give a more generic term. For example, you may be able to name you are somewhere in the realm of feeling sad. If you look up sad in the thesaurus you will get 40+ options that you can look through that may help you to pin point exactly what is going on for you.
- Atlas of the Heart by Brene Brown – If you are interested in getting a better understanding and clarity about emotions I’d start here! Brene Brown shares research on over 80 emotions. If you are able to more accurately identify those 80 emotions, you are far and above the average!
Once you are in the practice of naming emotions in your journal daily, you can start jotting down if you remember what the emotion was connected to. And example might be writing down that you felt joy when you got a hug from a loved one. As you make this part of your routine, you will find that it will also be easier to name them as they are happening, allowing you to more quickly address what is going on for you.
*Atlas of the Heart by Brene Brown