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The following article was published in Your Health Magazine. Our mission is to empower people to live healthier.
Florinda Reid, LPC, RPT-S
Experiencing and Naming Our Emotions
Loudoun Family Counseling, LLC
. http://florindareid.com/

Experiencing and Naming Our Emotions

An important part of growing up and learning how to manage our emotions is to recognize them and name them. A further healthy practice is to be able to watch ourselves throughout the day as our moods change. In clinical work with children, adolescents, and their families, it is observed that many people struggle with this for the simple reason that they do not have the vocabulary for accurately naming their emotional state. This is sad, as there is a lot of evidence that the simple act of naming our emotional state can put us in a better position to self-manage, or regulate, our emotions.

Some of the more common emotions that we feel include: joy, fear, sadness, anger, disgust, and surprise. These broad emotional categories may be broken down into more subtle emotions. For instance, fearful may be broken down into anxious and insecure. We can further divide anxious into overwhelmed and worried. We can describe insecure as either inadequate or inferior. But the practice of discerning which kind of fear we are experiencing can be difficult for many people.

What makes it so difficult to name our emotions? Frequently we do not have good models of emotional engagement. Sometimes, our parents or teachers were uncomfortable or did not know how to name their emotions, so they were not able to teach us. In other, less common, cases we may not feel safe to name the emotions or to express that we are feeling them. Over time, either when we do not have effective modeling of how to name and express our emotions, or when people around us prevent our expressing our emotions; we tend to withdraw and push the emotions away.

Emotions are important for us to live fully human lives. Some of the most beautiful experiences we have are emotional experiences: the wonder of looking at a beautiful landscape, the sublime joy we experience when we feel we are fulfilling our purpose, the tremendous feeling of healthy pride when our accomplishments are recognized, and other sublime emotions have been written about in poetry and music for centuries.

Emotions give us information about our environment. Learning to observe and name our emotions can help us experience life more deeply. Some people who have difficulty naming their emotions benefit from talk therapy that helps them to recognize the variety of emotional experiences and give names to them.

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