Name it to tame it

Coined by psychiatrist Dr Daniel Siegel. 

We’ve all experienced uncomfortable and intense emotions. Sometimes we may feel like our thoughts and emotions are spiralling out of control. Rather than feeling like we’re experiencing these emotions, it can feel like we are our emotions!

When we’re stressed, the primal area of our brain is activated (our feeling brain) which is responsible for the fight or flight response. This stress response primes us to act quickly, and sometimes in a way that is disproportionate to the actual level of threat in our environment. 

One effective strategy to reduce stress is simply naming the emotion we are experiencing. This trick works by activating our thinking brain - the sciency term is the prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain involved in more slow and deliberate decision-making. The simple strategy of naming how we feel allows us to take a step back and separate ourselves from how we feel.

Changing our language from “I am sad” to “I am noticing that I am feeling sad”, can also help create distance between you and your experience. 

Try it out? How are you feeling? I am noticing that I am feeling __________

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