Learning how to Observe, Describe and Name Emotions
In previous lessons, we have look at the process of pausing and acknowledging our emotions. Learning how to observe, describe and name our emotions is a key part of that process.
We start with observing our emotions. Let’s say for example you are going to an important meeting at work today. You begin to feel uneasy – heart racing, dry mouth, hands shaking. You try to ignore it, but that makes it worse, your muscles will tense and you will begin to feel more stressed. You remember that this has happened before, and start judging yourself for this behaviour.
This is the time to begin observing, describing and naming the emotions.
The first step is to pick an emotion – it can be positive or negative. If you can’t identify the emotions you are currently feeling, or if it feels overwhelming in a negative way, choose an emotion you felt recently. Here are some positive and negative emotions that may help you to choose:
Once you have chosen your emotion, write it down on a piece of paper. You can make it colourful if you wish, draw patterns or colour the letters in. You can also draw a silly picture of the emotion, to remind yourself it is just an emotion.
Describe the intensity of the emotion from 0-10, with 10 being the most intense.
Write down the thoughts that the emotions have caused. Remember to write only the thoughts, don’t use any emotions.
Write down the action that is a suitable response to the emotion. Describe it fully. For example, if the meeting makes you feel anxious, you might prefer to prepare in a quiet room before the meeting or have coffee with a friend or colleague.
These might seem like simple things, but the goal of the exercise is to explore the emotion you are feeling by observing it, describing it and naming it. The act of writing and drawing also help to pause and distract from the emotional intensity.