How a word can calm strong emotions

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Robert Maurer
@robertmaurer
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Do you often lose control of your emotions? Let anxiety, fear and anger take control at the most inopportune moments? There is a very simple and quick way to prevent them emozioni trigger a full-blown emotional kidnapping. We can anticipate emotions and prevent them from growing to the point of causing harm to us. To do this, we just need to learn how to label emotions. Whatever your emotions are, you feel sad, angry or anxious, just name this state, turn it into a word. The process of labeling emotions involves combining a word with mental and physical sensations, which are sometimes a bit chaotic. In fact, in some cases it is difficult to determine exactly how we feel, but choosing a word that identifies our state helps us to manage emotion better.But it is also appropriate to clarify that emotions are not our enemy, just the opposite. Emotions have enormous adaptive value, because they are a signal from our most primitive brain that indicates the risks or opportunities we have before us. Emotions are a powerful incentive to act, yet when emotions are too intense, they end up overwhelming us and lose their adaptive power because they take control and anesthetize the rational brain, thus causing us to make bad decisions. To avoid this scenario, in which we lose control, we just have to label the emotions.

How does this technique work?

Recently, a study conducted by psychologists at UCLA revealed why using a word to define the emotional chaos we are experiencing is a powerful tool for self-control. Through a number of studies, these researchers have noticed that people who name what they feel when they experienced emotions such as anger and fear showed less activation of the amygdala, the part of the brain that manages emotions. At the same time, greater activity was noted in the right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex, the area of ​​the brain that is responsible for modulating the overreactions that activate the amygdala. In practice, simply labeling what we feel would make us pass from one " emotional state "to a" rational state ". In this way, we are able to prevent not only negative emotions from growing excessively, but we can also control impulsivity and react more calmly, improving our self-control. Why? It seems that the simple fact of having to label what we are living forces us to use the rational part of our brain, it stimulates us to take a step back and consider the situation in perspective, as if we were an external observer. And that's enough to allow us to regain control of the situation.

How to put this technique into practice?

If you have never explored your emotions at first it may seem difficult to find the right word to express what you are feeling. Therefore, it is best for you to start by practicing a few minutes a day until you learn to quickly identify your emotions. At this point, when you are assaulted by a strong emotion, you must stop for a moment to think carefully about how you are feeling at that precise moment. But not just to label emotion. Once you've found the right word, take a break. Focus on that emotion and the reaction it aroused in you. But don't judge, don't use words like "positive" or "negative", "good" or "bad", just repeat: "Ok, now I feel anxious" or "I feel angry, but it is a natural response in this situation. "Identifying what you are feeling and, above all, accepting these emotions will not only reduce your stress, but will also help you to tolerate it better when you have to face similar situations in the future. At this point, there is nothing left to do but sit back and relax, thinking carefully about what the next step will be. For example, you might say to yourself, “I feel irritable. I can't make a good decision right now, I'd better go out for a walk to calm down. ”Emotion tagging is a particularly useful technique when you have to give a speech in public and you are nervous, when you start getting angry during an argument to avoid losing control, or when you get irritated because something has gone wrong with your daily routine.
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