How are you feeling right now? Most will answer the question with a quick “fine,” “great,” “okay,” or maybe “not great.”
Research has indicated that most people actually identify the emotion they are feeling using only a small handful of labels. In fact, there is a psychological term, “alexithymia,” that refers to a difficulty in recognizing and expressing one’s own emotions, as well as an impaired ability to understand and interpret the emotions of others. So, no matter how complex their emotions might be, they still come up with only a few labels to describe them.
These findings also suggest that having greater clarity about the emotion we are experiencing can help reduce the physiological manifestation of this emotion. In other words, am I “angry” or am I actually frustrated. Perhaps I am irritated, annoyed, or jealous. Each of these emotions is a different emotional expression that is categorized under the generalized emotion of anger, yet with very different, if not subtle, implications.
When we understand ourselves, we can lay the foundation for an adequate response to distressing situations. Labelling an emotion helps you create distance from it. From there, we can choose how to respond instead of being led by our emotions and what triggered them.
In this lesson, take the time to understand exactly what you are feeling. Start with a generalized emotion and then pass through the variants. Understanding your emotions is vital to making big decisions and navigating your next steps.