Today we’re going to discuss labeling emotions and how this can help us become better individuals.
What is the power of emotions?
I’ve always seen emotions as our pure, gut response to a situation. Our reactions, such as anger and sadness, are raw and honest evaluations of what we’ve seen or experience.
I believe passions are a good thing. They help us better understand our unfiltered response to situations and we should use them to help guide us towards becoming individuals.
However, emotions are simply a response. We can understand ourselves through our passions, but we can’t properly understand how to respond – this is where virtue and logic come into play. For example, if I’m angry, logic reminds me that I shouldn’t strike out while virtue tells me how to direct my anger towards something better.
In this regard, I believe emotions are the foundation of proper self-knowledge as well as long-term self-improvement.
How does one properly label emotions?
Emotions are not hard to define. However, as I’ve discussed earlier, we’re taught from a young age to deny our feelings. Because of this, we can often have a warped view of ourselves.
The best way to accurately define one’s emotion is to go for the immediate word that comes to mind when you feel something. Don’t let your mind explain what you feel – simply feel. For example, if you are cut off in traffic, don’t think about how you feel irritated and enraged. Simply stop and feel your anger.
When we filter our responses through our thoughts, we lose connection to our emotions. We’re not able to correctly understand them and thus honestly deal with them.
For now, our goal is to avoid passing judgment on what we’re feeling – that comes later. For this post, I just want to focus on clearing our mind and simply experiencing ourselves without trying to rationalize or undermine what we’re feeling.
What’s the benefit of properly labeling emotions?
When we understand ourselves, we can set the foundation for adequate response to distressing situations.
As with willpower, emotion labeling requires practice. We have to work at it constantly. Our mission is to prevent immediate judgment but to understand what we’re feeling before responding. This can be accomplished in a split second, but it takes time to get that good.
- The primary benefit of labeling emotions is that we’re able to prevent severe decision making based on fleeting responses. If we’re angry, we may think poorly and react instead of being proactive. This “reaction” is caused by not understanding ourselves.
- The secondary benefit is our ability to better define what we’re honestly feeling. For example, we may be angry at something, but the underlying cause may be sadness. Through proper emotional labeling, we can better understand ourselves.
- The last benefit is an increased ability to understand the emotions of others. Instead of viewing everyone as shallow, we can acknowledge with more finesse when someone may feel embarrassed or sad. These skills are invaluable in building community and helping others. However, we must always master our own emotional labeling first before we can safely help others.
This emotional labeling helped me when I became a parent. I was frequently frustrated until I stopped denying what I felt. By listening to my emotions, as I was able to create proactive solutions instead of regrets created by reactive responses.
There’s no benefit in denying how we feel – we’ll end up stressed and listless. Ignore the societal belief that we should suppress our emotions. We should seek to label and define what we feel so we can become individuals.
Read the following:
- When was a moment you experience extreme emotions and felt like you couldn’t control yourself? What did you do? How do you think better emotional connection will help you?
- What passions do you feel the most? Why do you think that is?
- How do you think emotions and willpower are connected?
Please remember that it’s important to do the actionables. You’re not on this earth to simply read but to do. To become an individual, you must act more than you consume.
*Image credit to Unsplash.