July 9, 2018

Below is a lesson from ideas.ted.com on two smart techniques to help you master emotions, as well as our key learning.

The Blue Courage team is dedicated to continual learning and growth.  We have adopted a concept from Simon Sinek’s Start With Why team called “Learn, Share, Grow”.  We are constantly finding great articles, videos, and readings that have so much learning.  As we learn new and great things, this new knowledge should be shared for everyone to then grow from.


Try these two smart techniques to help you master your emotions

Jun 21, 2018 / Lisa Feldman Barrett

By more clearly identifying our feelings or by recategorizing them, we can reduce suffering (yes!) and increase well-being, says neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett.

“He’s an angry person”; “I’m a very anxious person.” We’ve all made statements like these. They point towards the belief that emotions are hardwired in our brains or automatically triggered by events. But after decades of research at Northeastern University, neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett has come to a different conclusion: “Your brain’s most important job is not thinking or feeling or even seeing, but keeping your body alive and well so that you survive and thrive … How is your brain able to do this? Like a sophisticated fortune-teller, your brain constantly predicts. Its predictions ultimately become the emotions you experience and the expressions you perceive in other people.” (For an overview of her theory, watch her TED Talk.) And that’s good news: Since our brain essentially constructs our emotions, we can teach it to label them more precisely and then use this detailed information to help us take the most appropriate actions — or none at all. Here, she explains how to do this.

One of the best things you can do for your emotional health is to beef up your concepts of emotions. Suppose you knew only two emotion concepts: “Feeling Awesome” and “Feeling Crappy.” Whenever you experienced an emotion or perceived someone else as emotional, you’d categorize only with this broad brush, which isn’t very emotionally intelligent. But if you could distinguish finer meanings within “Awesome” (happy, content, thrilled, relaxed, joyful, hopeful, inspired, prideful, adoring, grateful, blissful . . .), and fifty shades of “Crappy” (angry, aggravated, alarmed, spiteful, grumpy, remorseful, gloomy, mortified, uneasy, dread-ridden, resentful, afraid, envious, woeful, melancholy . . .), your brain would have many more options for predicting, categorizing and perceiving emotions, providing you with the tools for more flexible and useful responses. You could predict and categorize your sensations more efficiently and better suit your actions to your environment.

Continue reading here.

Try these two smart techniques to help you master your emotions


Key learnings:

  • Your brain’s most important job is to keep your body alive and well so that you survive and thrive – it constantly predicts, which become the emotions you experience and expressions you perceive in others.
  • We can teach the brain to label emotions more precisely and use this detailed information to help us take the most appropriate action.
  • One of the best things you can do for emotional health – beef up your concepts of emotions.
  • Distinguish finer meanings of each emotion (i.e. awesome becomes happy, content, thrilled, relaxed, joyful, hopeful, inspired, prideful, adoring, etc.) allows your brain more options for predicting, categorizing, and =perceiving emotions, providing you with the tools for more flexible and useful responses – this is emotional granularity (constructing finer-grained emotional experiences).
  • People who can construct finely-grained emotional experiences go to the doctor less frequently, use medication less frequently, and spend fewer days hospitalized for illness.
  • A key to real emotional intelligence is to gain new emotional concepts and hone your existing ones.
  • Learn new words = gain concepts. Words seed your concepts, concepts drive your predictions, predictions regulate your body budget (how your grain anticipates and fulfills your body’s energy needs), and your body budget determines how you feel.
  • People who can distinguish finely among their unpleasant feelings were 30% more flexible when regulating their emotions, less likely to drink excessively when stressed, and less likely to retaliate aggressively against someone who has hurt them.
  • Learn as many new words as possible – read books outside your comfort zone, listen to thought-provoking audio content – don’t be satisfied with one emotion; seek out and use more specific words. Don’t limit yourself to words in your native language.
  • Invent your own emotion concepts, using your powers of social reality and conceptual combination. By coming up with your own emotion concepts, you’ll be better calibrated to cope with different circumstances and potentially more empathetic to others.
    • Close your eyes and imagine yourself in a situation – characterize the feelings you feel by combining emotional concepts. If you use this technique daily, you’ll be better calibrated to cope with varied circumstances.
  • An emotionally intelligent person not only has lots of concepts but also which ones to use and when.
  • When faced with emotions, ask yourself what you are feeling. By identifying your emotion, you can come up with a much more skillful response than just reactive or reflexive responses.
  • Sounds unnecessary? People pay good money to therapists and life coaches for exactly this purpose: to help them reframe situations.
  • Recategorize how you feel – your brain will try to predict causes for sensations. The more concepts you know and the more instances you can construct, the more effectively you can recategorize to manage your emotions and regulate your behavior. “Make your butterflies fly in formation.”
  • People who recategorize anxiety as excitement show positive effects, with better performance and fewer classic symptoms of anxiety when speaking in public and when singing karaoke.
  • When you can categorize something as “not about me,” it exits your affective niche and has less impact on your body budget. Similarly, when you are successful and you feel proud, honored or gratified, take a step back and remember that these pleasant emotions are entirely the result of social reality, reinforcing your fictional self.