6/17/21: The power of naming your emotions

Sent 6/17/21

One fun note. From 2008 to 2011 I wrote 68 articles for Runner's Tribe. I thought they were all lost, but I recently discovered many of them. I'll be republishing some of the relevant ones on the Make the Leap blog. The first one I chose is: The 12 Arguments in Every Online Running Debate. It may not make you a better runner, but it may make you a better online forum participant 💪🏻

This week's Think Better Newsletter is about dealing with our emotions more effectively. 

The Idea

On the latest episode of the Fueling the Pursuit podcast we interviewed Sam Acho, former NFL linebacker, founder of Athletes for Justice, and author of the new book Let the World See You

Staying true to ourselves is one of the biggest challenges in life. Many of the environments we find ourselves--work, team, school, community--reward some actions more than others. When those actions consistently move us away from who we aspire to be, we find ourselves living a life we don't even recognize.

This eventually wears on us because it forces us to carry an extra burden. That burden takes the form of questions like, "Does anyone even know the real me?" or, "What if I can't live up to their expectations?" or "How long can I sustain this?"

This burden results in confusion, frustration, and spiritual weight.

There's a quote I read once that I really like: "Emotions are just a form of energy, forever seeking expression." The longer we hold them inside, the more of our energy they consume.

Fortunately, there's a pretty simple system for dealing with them: name them.

The System

Naming your emotions is quite simple. You just say out loud how you are feeling.

  • "I don't know what to do and I feel scared right now."
  • "I feel really frustrated about this."
  • "I am so happy to hear that news."

As Sam says, "When you name your emotions it gets them out of you and into the world. They become something you can hold, and manipulate, and deal with. When they are inside you, you can't deal with them. But when you put them out into the world you can."

When you name your negative emotion, it immediately reduces its potency. The negative energy dissipates into the air around you. And when you tell others, it allows them to absorb some of that energy and relieve your burden.

When you name a positive emotion, it makes it easier to appreciate it and share it with others. The energy spreads out and touches those around you, and they can amplify it back to you.

I argue in the book that goals work the same way. A goal in your mind remains small and contained. Speaking it into existence literally gives it substance. You can hear it. If it doesn't sound right, you can adjust it. When others hear it, it becomes a commitment.

Next time you are feeling a strong emotion, name it. Get it out of you and into the world. Instead of feeling controlled by it, you'll gain control of it.

The Question

How are you feeling right now?


Go Be More,

Bryan Green
Author of Make the Leap: Think Better, Train Better, Run Faster and the companion Think Better Workbook
Co-host of the Go Be More Podcast
Co-host of the Fueling the Pursuit Podcast

"Feelings are something you have, not something you are."
- Shannon L. Alder



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