top of page
  • Writer's pictureDr. CK Bray

The One Tool You Need to Harness Your Emotions Before You Lose Your Cool

We have all had experiences when our emotions get the best of us at work or home. An event or interaction goes south, and before we know it, our negative emotions have taken over. (And we may not communicate or behave how we want to.)


Imagine navigating the rollercoaster of emotions during a meeting that is going south, and amidst wanting to speak the truth of how you feel about your counterpart or boss, you discover a button in front of you labeled "Affect Labeling." This isn't just any button; it's a tool that can dial down the ferocity of those pesky negative emotions and amplify the joy of the positive ones. Simply put, as you experience the whirlwind of feelings, naming them—"I'm angry and about to tell someone off" can actually transform your emotional landscape.


Why does calling out these emotional gremlins by name strip them of their power?


Picture being at the mercy of a hidden puppeteer, pulling strings on your thoughts and actions without your knowledge. The moment you shine a spotlight on this puppeteer, naming it "frustration" or "anger" or “embarrassment,” you snatch back the control. It's like stepping into the director's shoes of your own emotional movie.


Professor Christian Waugh, an expert in the realm of emotions and psychology, reveals that naming your dark clouds of emotions places them in a jar, allowing you to observe them with a detective's eye. This process isn't just about acknowledging the storm but understanding its origins and plotting a course to sunnier skies.


Here's the kicker: this works wonders on positive emotions, too. According to Waugh's scrolls of wisdom, labeling moments of joy and elation doesn't just capture them in a snapshot; it deepens and stretches these feelings, allowing you to bask in their glow longer.


Why does this work? By naming our feelings, we're not just acknowledging their presence; we're engaging in a form of self-reflection that enriches our emotional experiences, whether they're dipped in shadow or light.


Therapists often guide their patients in the art of emotion labeling. It's a straightforward yet profound technique. Feeling a storm of anger brewing or a wave of joy swelling? Whisper to yourself, "I'm surfing on anger's edge" or "I'm floating in a sea of joy."


And for an extra sprinkle of magic, you can create even more distance from those stormier emotions with a phrase like, "I observe that I'm riding the anger wave." This trick, straight from the treasure chest of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), adds a layer of insulation, muffling the thunder of negative emotions.


So, next time you find yourself on the emotional high seas, remember the power of naming your emotions is like holding a compass that guides you through the storm and into calm waters. (And also may save you from saying or doing something you regret later.





Cover of book How To Raise Remarkable Kids Without Talking To Them


bottom of page