Name it and Claim it
“How are you feeling?”
While “how are you feeling?” is probably the most asked question in our society, I’m attributing this quote to Dr. Marc Brackett, author of Permission to Feel, Unlocking the Power of Emotions to Help Our Kids, Ourselves, and Our Society Thrive © 2019. The more you can identify your emotions, the easier your life will be. In this section, we'll focus on getting familiar with the other 34,000 feelings. I’ve offered 100. That should be enough to start!
There are a few ways to check in with yourself throughout the day:
You can simply stop and ask yourself how you’re feeling.
Take a moment to consider your response when someone asks you how you are.
Take a break and write down your feelings.
There’s an app for it! The Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence created the Mood Meter app (https://moodmeterapp.com/) which offers an interactive way to identify your feelings.
The more you practice, the more likely you’ll be to increase your EQ, your emotional maturity.
Here’s an example from a day in my life:
Wake up, quick stretch and foam roll, pour a cup of hot water, sit down at my desk and write in my morning journal. Today I’m feeling a little off. I didn’t sleep well and have a slight sinus headache. I’m feeling unfocused, tired, yet optimistic because it’s a beautiful spring day and I know it will get better as the day progresses. During breakfast my son realizes he didn’t study for a test today. He’s stressed. I start to feel stress too. “Should I have checked in with him at bedtime? But isn’t he old enough to manage this himself?” I think to myself. “Ugh, where does it end...” He leaves to catch the bus and I take a minute to acknowledge my role and consider that I might be putting unnecessary pressure on me and him. I opt for having faith that it will work out. I get to work, take a deep breath before I go through the door, and greet everyone. What awaits? I’m used to being a little anxious when I first walk in.
In this situation, I’ve gone through at least seven emotions and feelings in one morning. And it might have gone a multitude of ways. I could have rolled out of bed and taken my headache out on my son for not studying and then gone into work angry and frustrated. And that’s four unpleasant feelings right there. I’m glad it didn’t go that way! The rest of my day would probably have been miserable.
By acknowledging what you're feeling, that split second of mindfulness allows you to separate from the situation and be present in the moment. This is an Eckhart Tolle in The Power of Now fundamental concept. It’s so simple yet so foreign to many of us. Moms don’t take time for themselves! But if you do this, you can start. One second is all you need.
Now that you’ve named it, you can claim it. Let’s use “frustrated” as an example. Why would I have gone to work frustrated? For one thing, I would still have been rumbling about my bad morning with the sinus headache. And then I added to that with my son’s homework problem. I took on his stress and made it mine too. And then carried it with me while sitting in traffic, and finally lamenting that I had to be in the office all day on a beautiful spring day.
But I didn’t do that. Instead, I dealt with my “off” feeling first thing by taking a few minutes to set up my day. I found something to be positive about, which gave me the energy to engage with my son in a positive way, had faith he would work out his problem, showed him respect by allowing it, and took a moment to be present before I walked into the office.
Let’s look at my example again and break it down:
Action: Wake up, quick stretch and foam roll, pour a cup of hot water, sit down at my desk and write in my morning journal. Today I’m feeling a little off. I didn’t sleep well and have a slight sinus headache:
1.I’m feeling unfocused, tired, and
2. optimistic because I know it’s a beautiful spring day and it will get better as the day progresses.
Action: During breakfast my son realizes he didn’t study for a test today. He’s stressed. I start to feel stress too. “Should I have checked in with him at bedtime? But isn’t he old enough to manage this himself?” Ugh, where does it end. He leaves to catch the bus and:
3. I take a second to acknowledge my role and consider that I might be putting unnecessary pressure on me and him.
4. I opt for having faith that it will work out.
Action: I get to work,
5. take a deep breath before I go through the door, and greet everyone. What awaits? I’m used to being a little anxious when I first walk in.
Five seconds of my time saved me at least five hours of misery.
And it’s not just words that indicate emotions. There are also very physical signs that let you know something’s going on:
That odd feeling in your stomach when someone contradicts you.
When your face is flushed when you meet a gorgeous guy.
When your voice gets scratchy when it’s your turn to speak at a meeting.
When you’re suddenly sweating because your debit card isn’t working at the grocery store checkout.
When your palms are sweaty before you go to shake hands with the person interviewing you.
You can plow through the stress and hope for the best or you can take a moment and breath through it instead. It’s especially helpful during times where you can anticipate your stress to be prepared for it. You may not be able to prevent it, but you’ll be less anxious and more focused if you identify it and more on.