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All About Emotions

anger emotion regulation emotional intelligence happiness joy sadness Apr 05, 2022

I love this movie! Disney's "Inside Out" is a great movie that explores different emotions and the roll's they play in our lives.

When someone told me I reminded them of Joy, I was pretty sure that was the best compliment ever. Of course, I assume it's really because I do a lot of dumb things that we all laugh at (ie. eating dog food - it was NOT a chocolate chip, walking with a new baby in a stroller and hitting a bump which caused baby to fall out and then running baby over, saying borderline sketchy things to large groups in public places, speaking at church with my shirt's middle button undone, falling down stairs and actually bouncing, etc...)

I have a nearly endless supply of funny stories and embarrassing moments. I tell them whenever someone needs to feel a little better about themselves.

Clearly I love being happy. 

In fact, I used to think that it was the emotion I was supposed to be feeling all the time.

If you do everything right, say your prayers, go to church, eat chocolate, serve other people and clean a toilet here and there you will certainly be happy, right?

But what if you're not?

What if you're trying to do everything in your power to be happy, but happiness isn't even on your radar? Are you doing something wrong?

I have a firm belief that our expectation of life being mostly happy is wrong.

Being happy is great. But you don't have to be happy all the time. In fact, to experience your best life possible, you need to experience emotions on the on the less pleasant side of the spectrum. 

What if life is supposed to be happy and sad and all of the emotions in between?

What if we believed that we could only be as happy as we were disheartened, discouraged, and depressed? (It's called the law of opposition in all things!)

Life is supposed to be filled with all types of emotions! That's what we're here on Earth to discover. This means that we need to feel the ENTIRE rainbow of emotions.

If you're feeling sad, it doesn't mean you're doing anything wrong. Just like if you're feeling happy, you aren't necessarily doing everything right! 

Discovering, naming, understanding, learning, exploring, regulating and expressing emotion is what makes life exciting! It gives us variety and helps us empathize with others.

Marc Brackett, PhD and the author of Permission to Feel teaches the RULER technique for managing and expressing our emotions in a positive way.

Here is a summary of what each step in the technique means. 

To see an example of this, I'll use an experience I had last week. 

One evening after a very long day of working, I said something snarky to my husband in passing and he sighed, "I guess you're frustrated with me about something."

I stopped for a moment. Was I frustrated? Was I frustrated with him? I mean I really did want to yell at him about something. But I couldn't figure out what it would be. Obviously something was up. I could feel how tense my body was. I was definitely not feeling great. 

(R - Recognize the emotion)

I pulled out my handy dandy app that I had been using to name my moods - - and started flipping through the different emotions that were listed. 

I settled on disheartened, vulnerable and discouraged. And as I thought about it, the tears began flowing. I wasn't upset with my husband at all. It was all about me. He hadn't done anything wrong. I was afraid I wasn't doing things right.

(U and L - Understand the cause and consequences and label the emotions accurately)

Ryan hugged me for awhile as I cried and expressed my complex emotions and apologized for offloading on him.

(E - Express emotions effectively)

Now I needed to do something to regulate my emotions. My app suggested that I smile about something. That helped for a moment. What did I really need? 

(R - Regulate emotions)

I needed a break. I needed to step away from what I was working on for the night and get ready for bed. I needed sleep, rest and some self-loving coping skills. 

Before too long I was feeling a little better. I didn't go all the way to ecstatic or elated, but I felt peaceful and calm. That was good progress for me.

Different parts of the RULER technique are harder and easier for different people. Emotional maturity makes a big difference whether or not someone is able to accurately name express and regulate their emotions in a positive way. And for a lot of us who didn't learn these crucial emotional intelligence skills as a child or teenager, we need someone to help us sort through what we're feeling and why.

I can also help you develop regulation strategies that will make things easier when you recognize a mood that you want to change. Reach out if you're ready to learn these strategies! 

Because feeling a variety of emotions is part of a rich and wonderful life, learning what to do with those emotions is a necessary skill for every single person.

Here are a couple podcast episodes you can listen to and get more information about this topic!

The Miracle of Communicating with Emotional Intelligence

What is Social Emotional Learning (SEL)?



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