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Emotional Vocabulary...

What is it and how do we develop it?


EMOTIONAL VOCABULARY. My musings here were inspired by this amazing book I read on the 30 hours in transit from London to Byron Bay recently. All About Love by Bell Hooks. The quote below is from it.If you ask most people how they are feeling, they will usually respond in one of three ways, happy, sad or angry (good, bad and fine aren’t feelings either btw).


We’ve seen a rise in emojis, an attempt to help us effectively express emotions without needing to call them by their true names.

The passage (pictured) describes the shame, I call ‘squirmyness’ we may feel over expressions of affection or love. We can learn to navigate and transcend this if we so choose.


Effective emotional vocabulary requires 4 key elements.


1. Awareness - identify the feeling or felt sense.


2. Temperance - the ability to effectively manage the internal emotional response prior to reacting (easier said than done).


3. Courage - the bravery to to express the identified feeling in a considered healthy way.


4. Congruence - continuing to behave in accordance with our emotions consistently over time


AWARENESS; fortunately there’s an app for that, my fave is called the Universe of Emotions, based on research by Dr. Alan Watkins it allows you to map a feeling along with others in its wheelhouse.


TEMPERANCE; so often we get trapped in a short chain stress response. [*See video on short and long chain stress response.] Temperance teaches us to onboard our thought sense to help inform our felt sense and respond appropriately.


COURAGE; this is the key ingredient do you have the courage to express how you truly feel? Have you fostered relationships that can handle emotion? This one is huge!!


CONGRUENCE; can you continue to repeat steps one, two and three consistently over time?


So to use the example pictured, we can own how squirmy it feels to express loving sentiments without being constrained by that 'squirmyness'. We can then and respond in a considered and appropriate way over time.


As the shame dissipates and the love abounds. This is emotional mastery.


Modelling consistent, considered, honest emotional expression helps our own nervous system and the nervous systems of those around us (friends, children, family, lovers, colleagues) to co-regulate. We feel safer w emotionally fluent people. This is vitally important for effective relational management.

May your life be your masterpiece in progress as ever we are becoming. Blessings, L 🙏

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