How many emotions can you list off the top of your head? 5, 10? Happy, Sad, Anger, Fear, Love probably spring to mind for most people.
A recent study has identified 27 different emotions. The number can be argued to be higher or lower depending on what you read and how you interpret the descriptive words into emotions.
For example, in my ‘Wheel of emotion’ article. Here you can picture the 8+ emotions (and how they blend) as based on the work of prof Robert Plutchik.
The recent study of 27 though is perhaps a more modern interpretation and it certainly appears there is a greater inter-connected tapestry of emotions than previously thought. Science never stops!
I bring this up, because I want to talk about your emotional vocabulary, and how having a rich vocabulary can help you be happier (more content / less sad) in your life.
Tony Robbins mentions in his classic book “Awaken the Giant Within”, that he found over 3000 words to describe human emotion. Oddly enough he reports that there were twice as many words that describe negative emotions than positive.
Let’s even the keel. Having a larger ‘emotional vocabulary’ to draw from will give you a more accurate way to interpret and associate how you are feeling, and what others are feeling. How can this help?…Lets learn about…
The second part of the puzzle to changing the intensity of your emotions is to understand the effect of ‘labeling’. This is especially true when labels are ‘handed down’ from people you look up to and respect, such as as doctors, parents, teachers, celebrities etc.
Labels gain almost a power of their own, and gather a weight and a meaning amongst groups of people.
The power of the labels can affect you, your mindset, and beliefs about yourself. Another time I can talk about culture and expectations – and fitting in, and shaping your state of mind and emotions to suit the masses.
But for now, What labels can you think of that instantly change your state of mind? Or change the state of mind of someone else being labelled?
Do you label yourself with negative self talk?
What do you think a kid being labelled a ‘Bully’ does to his/her mindset and behaviour?
What do you think someone diagnosed with an STD or a specific disease / disability does to their emotions / state of mind? Could they all of a sudden feel shame, weak, worthless, embarrassed, pity, disbelief, anger, blame? Would feeling these emotions change their motivation, and behaviour. Too right it could. Labels are powerful and need to be used with caution to avoid unnecessary disempowerment.
Related Article – Whats Your Brain Gauge Telling You…
A New Way To Think About Your Emotions
Because your brain associates feelings, emotions and behaviour based on words. You need to pay particular attention to what you are being told or telling yourself.
Words have a wonderful power and ability to change your state of mind. This is can be explored more deeply in books such as “Words can Change Your Brain” by Andrew Newberg, M.D. and Mark Robert Waldman.
The concepts can be applied across many areas of your life. Imagine the power of being able to transform the intensity of your own emotions.
Seriously take 15 seconds to really think about that
Let’s look at an example now to change your words, thoughts, mood, state of mind and then your decisions and actions.
Try it and see what the experience is like for you. What are the effects? What do you notice? Can you measure the difference (even roughly?)
It’s so simple, yet you can use this neuro-trick right away to help change the intensity of your hunger (and other emotions in your life too).
When you feel hungry what do you say to yourself?
Is is something like:
“I’m starving to death right now, I’m so hungry” ?
If it is, next time, notice the thoughts you are having, acknowledge it, and replace it with:
“I feel a little hungry”.
By saying that and paying attention to what you are saying, you can lower the intensity of your appetite in moments. Instead of whipping yourself up into an eating frenzy, you can control your eating to appease your “little bit of hunger”.
Try it over the next couple of days and see how you go.
As you practice self-awareness and expand your emotional vocabulary you will soon be much more insightful and will have deliberate control over your responses and behaviour and state of mind.
You can use the power of words and transformational vocabulary for increasing the intensity of positive emotions too.
A simple one you can try to boost your mood and happiness is instead of saying “I’m okay” when asked ‘how are you’; intentionally replace your response with:
“I feel freakin’ fantastic! – Thanks for asking!”
See what impact this has on your mood. Even just thinking about saying this at the supermarket checkout should be putting a smile on your dial. I wonder if it would make the ‘checkout chic’ smile too?
You can even get friends and family involved, maybe even colleagues at your work place. See what impact it has.
Let me know how you
go. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org