Learn a New Emotional Language

languageStating the obvious, labels and language provide us with the necessary code for comprehension of just about everything. Language has evolved as our evolution and maturation has. Every year dozens of new words are added to both a formal dictionary and our colloquial vernacular. In college, I never “googled” anything nor as I kid did I “binge watch” any show, for example. I’ve been writing for well over a decade now on Emotions, Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and Neuroscience. Our understanding of these has dramatically improved in the last ten years alone, more so arguably than previous centuries combined. We know now that our human body is over 90% fluid, filled with all kinds of chemicals whose total composition is dictated in large part by instant reactions to constantly-changing stimuli from key glands in our body. A certain combination of chemicals (hormones) forces our neurothpathways (thought pattern) to go a certain direction to decipher the stimuli and other combinations go to different places for the same reason. We have been using a bronze-age language to describe these feelings, such as anger, sad, happy, glad, frustrated, joyful, excited, bored, etc. These labels were at best honorable attempts to makes sense of what our glands and thoughts were doing and provided our ancestors with comprehension for decoding visible human behavior. But make no mistake, these are outdated and even inaccurate labels. It is time to learn a new language.

What really is the difference between being mad and angry? Or happy and joyful? Or sad and blue? When and how were you taught to label these emotions? Who did you learn in from? Where did they learn it from? Time has come to ask these questions because our self-taught and inaccurate labels of emotions are in constant use, consciously and largely subconsciously as well. At work, we are interacting with other people whilst in full emotional interpretation mode. What did she ‘mean’ when she said that? He wasn’t even looking at me when I talked. I did not feel heard. I am so frustrated with John. She is so much fun to work with. He is someone I trust.  I hate that guy. These are just some examples of the non-stop play-by-play monologues and dialogues occurring in our brains …using very ancient labels.
Over the next few weeks, I will blog about learning a new language, a simpler and more accurate language. This week, however, start to take inventory of the vast array of emotional labels you are using. At the end of each call, meeting or interaction, listen to your monologue, like a recording, of what you are saying to yourself as your report to yourself on the interaction. You will note just how extensive the use of emotional language there is. And then ask yourself the questions from the last paragraph. If you went back in time about 100 years but spoke today’s language, most of the people around you would likely not understand you and think of you as crazy. But you would know there is an easier and better way to go to the bathroom than walking outside to an outhouse and so much more. This is the power of learning how emotions form, properly labeling them and processing them to make better decisions. I will be tweeting about this as well .. follow me at @izzyjustice

One response to “Learn a New Emotional Language

  1. mterrybarnhart

    The more I learn about my own EQ I’m made aware of the labels I used to apply to others. Sometimes, that does not promote positive feelings! Dr. J does an excellent job of encouraging me to reflect on my own labels.

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