Did you answer that question by saying: “I’m fine”? Maybe you aren’t fine, and answered that you were happy, sad, or angry? Did you stop to think about what you really mean by that answer? How are you really feeling? Why are you feeling this way and what do you want to do about it?
In his book, “Permission to Feel”, Marc Brackett talks about the importance of Emotional Intelligence and emotional skills. He shows you how you can develop a more varied emotional vocabulary. You learn how to deal with the actual challenges that you face by understanding how you feel. Here are my thoughts on how Brackett’s method will help you develop your emotional skills. By understanding how you feel, you can figure out what you need to do which in turn will influence how you feel, enabling you to create an upward emotional spiral.
What I’ve learned about my emotions
I’ve been tracking my emotions using the companion app, “Mood Meter”, for the past week. Here’s what I learned:
- My emotions are not consistent! They’re in constant flux as a reaction to what’s going on around me or in my head. I don’t “feel” one thing or one way for hours at a time.
- While I experience a lot of pleasant emotions, I tend to focus on the unpleasant ones.
- I don’t stop to think about why I’m feeling the way I am. Which leads to a generic labeling of my emotions.
- Finally, I suppress unpleasant feelings. I don’t actually deal with the underlying cause, which makes the feeling last longer.
The Mood Meter app is set up to help you gain/improve emotional skills. It uses the “RULER” approach covered in the book:
- R – Recognizing emotions
- U – Understanding emotions
- L – Labeling emotions
- E – Expressing emotions
- R – Regulating emotions
Every time you start Mood Meter you’re prompted to complete the phrase “I feel…” [Recognize, Label]. Emotions are grouped in four quadrants that span from “low pleasantness” to “high pleasantness” and from “low energy” to “high energy”. This helps you to more easily identify how you’re currently feeling.
Next, you’re asked to identify why you feel this way [Understand].
Finally, you decide if you want to keep feeling this way or if you want to shift your emotions [Regulate].
It takes just a couple of minutes to report my feelings each time I open the app. I still struggle to articulate my feelings, but my emotional vocabulary is richer. A week ago I wouldn’t have taken the time to differentiate between feeling “disheartened” and “disappointed”, but today, I do. Taking time to understand what I’m feeling has helped me respond more effectively to the situations I face.
I’ve also just recently finished reading David Rock’s book, “Your Brain at Work”. “Permission to Feel” in combination with the “Mood Meter” have helped me improve my implementation of some of the strategies from Rock’s book.
Finally, I’ve been attending a TenWomenStrong Shine group with Carolyn Dragon and Deborah Preuss. The focus area last week was meditation. This has amplified the results that I’m seeing working on my emotions. Meditation improves my ability to focus. Focussing helps me keep my attention on applying the RULER method in the moment.
I still report emotions in the “low pleasantness” quadrants (and I expect I will in the future). The book and app have helped me label my feelings and deliberately choose to act. I no longer try to ignore unpleasant feelings.
So, how are you feeling?
Do you typically answer the question with a limited repertoire of: “fine”, “happy”, “sad”, “angry”, “tired”? Are you ready to take the next step? What will you do to improve your emotional skills?
I would love to hear from you if you read the book or try the app! Do you have other recommendations for improving emotional skills?
So, how am I feeling? I feel grateful. I’m grateful to Bill Lindberg from The Ash Grove Group who introduced Brackett’s work at a workshop last week. I’m also grateful to Håkan Schyllert from Leapfrog, a wonderful teacher who organized Bill’s visit to Stockholm and recommended David Rock’s book “Your Brain at Work”.
P.s the book starts each chapter with the question: “How are you feeling?” This inspired the style of this blog entry.