All the notes were taken directly from the source mentioned.
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Here are the five skills we’ve identified. We need to recognize our own emotions and those of others, not just in the things we think, feel, and say but in facial expressions, body language, vocal tones, and other nonverbal signals. understand those feelings and determine their source‚”what experiences actually caused them and then see how they’ve influenced our behaviors. label emotions with a nuanced vocabulary. express our feelings in accordance with cultural norms and social contexts in a way that tries to inform and invites empathy from the listener. regulate emotions, rather than let them regulate us, by finding practical strategies for dealing with what we and others feel.
Children haven’t learned yet how to manage their emotions—how to suppress and compartmentalize whatever’s inconvenient at the moment, how to channel useful feelings for maximum benefit.
All emotions are an important source of information about what’s going on inside us.
Social-emotional-cognitive processes that are often highly charged, relationship driven, and focused on evaluating, predicting, and coping with feelings and behaviors.
Emotional intelligence was a synthesis of three burgeoning areas of scientific research, which demonstrated that emotions, when used widely, supported reasoning and complex problem solving.
First was the rediscovery of Charles Darwin’s functional view of emotion. Back in the nineteenth century, he pioneered the idea that emotions signal valuable information and energize adaptive behavior central to survival. Fear finally got its due as being very useful indeed, especially in our species’ early, threat-dense environments. Nothing like a good scare to get you up and fleeing a hungry saber-toothed cat.
Next came how emotions and moods play an essential role in thought processes, judgment, and behavior.
Research showed that emotions give purpose, priority, and focus to our thinking. They tell us what to do with the knowledge that our senses deliver. They motivate us to act.
It’s a natural bias‚ we all perceive and retrieve “mood-congruent” information most easily.
The third area of scientific inquiry was a search for “alternative” intelligences, to include a broad array of mental abilities rather than a single mental ability: IQ.
Howard Gardner, a professor from Harvard University, proposed a theory of multiple intelligences that advised educators and scientists to place a greater emphasis on abilities beyond verbal and mathematical skills, such as intrapersonal (the awareness of one’s own strengths and weaknesses) and interpersonal (the ability to communicate effectively and empathize with others) skills.
At their highest level, from an evolutionary perspective, emotions have an extremely practical purpose: They ensure our survival.
First, our emotional state determines where we direct our attention, what we remember, and what we learn. Second is decision making: when we’re in the grip of any strong emotion ”such as anger or sadness, but also elation or joy “we perceive the world differently, and the choices we make at that moment are influenced, for better or for worse. Third is our social relations. What we feel “and how we interpret other people’s feelings “sends signals to approach or avoid, to affiliate with someone or distance ourselves, to reward or punish.” Fourth is the influence of emotions on our health. Positive and negative emotions cause different physiological reactions within our bodies and brains, releasing powerful chemicals that, in turn, affect our physical and mental well-being. And the fifth has to do with creativity, effectiveness, and performance. In order to achieve big goals, get good grades, and thrive in our collaborations at work, we have to use our emotions as though they were tools.
If we’re bored to tears or daydreaming about the coming weekend, we’re not likely to absorb what we are reading on this page right now.
Strong, negative emotions (fear, anger, anxiety, hopelessness) tend to narrow our minds.
To be sure, moderate levels of stress “feeling challenged”can enhance our focus. It’s chronic stress that’s toxic and makes it biologically challenging to learning.
What research now shows is that different emotions serve different purposes for learning. If we need to engage our critical faculties “if, for instance, we have to edit a letter we’ve written and want to seek out flaws and correct any mistakes‚ a negative frame of mind might serve us better than its opposite.”
Pessimism can make it easier for us to anticipate things that could go wrong and then take the proper actions to prevent them. Guilt acts as a moral compass. Anxiety keeps us trying to improve things that a more generous mood might be willing to accept. Even anger is a great motivator‚ unlike resignation, it drives us to act and perhaps to fix what made us angry in the first place.
Negative emotions have a constructive function: they help narrow and focus our attention.
In reality, our emotions largely determine our actions. If we’re feeling something positive “confidence, optimism, contentment” we’ll come to one conclusion about what we ought to do. If our emotions are negative “anxiety, anger, sadness” our decision may be quite different, even though we’re working with the same set of facts.
Negative emotions make us weigh facts carefully and err on the side of caution. Positive emotions, on the other hand, fill us with the sense that life is going our way. If we’re feeling strong, exuberant, energetic, we’re more likely to base our decisions on heuristics “our gut instinct at that moment” than on careful reasoning.
Emotion’s true role in our decision-making has been measured abundantly in experiments.
And our feelings can linger long past the moment that inspires them‚”influencing subsequent behavior without us knowing‚”it’s known as ‚”the incidental mood bias.‚”
We make decisions continually, all day long, and most of them are small. We can’t deliberate over each one, so we rely on our brains to make snap judgments.
We decide often with minimal conscious thinking.
They instantly recognize how differently they treat each child depending solely on their perception of how he or she makes them feel.
These are mostly good teachers who do their best to treat each student equally and want to establish a positive, nurturing relationship with them all. But in the real world, despite all our best intentions, it doesn’t work that way. For some reason, teachers can barely make eye contact with one child or give her or him focused attention, while they eagerly look forward to interacting with other students and seek them out during classroom activities.
The basic dynamic is rather simple: approach or avoid.
Relationships are the most important aspects of our lives. There’s plentiful scientific research showing the enormous influence they have on our well-being‚”people with robust social networks enjoy better mental and physical health and even live longer,
Our mood at any given moment is expressed in the signals we send out. If we’re feeling joyful and open and expansive, it will make us confident and accepting of others. If we’re feeling down on ourselves, it will color how we relate to other people or if we connect at all.
When we need emotional support most is when we’re least likely to receive it.
In one study, Alia Crum, an assistant professor at Stanford University, randomly assigned three hundred employees at a finance company to watch two different three-minute videos about stress. Half of the participants watched a video that reinforced the negative aspects of stress; the others watched a similar video, but the messaging reinforced the positive side. After four weeks, the employees were surveyed: the ‚”stress is bad‚” group experienced more negative health symptoms than those in the “stress is good” group.
For instance, having to prepare a compelling presentation for a client is a form of stress, but the good kind. It’s caused by the challenge of achieving a desired goal and lasts only a short time. The ending of a game, or a major event such as a wedding day, affects us similarly.
Research at the Stanford University School of Medicine found that short bouts of stress can boost immunity and r”se levels of cancer-fighting molecules “and the effect lasts for weeks after the stressful situation ends.
We need to attend to the play of positive and negative emotions, which is out of balance for too many of us.
Whenever we make a decision or face a challenge, we have an opportunity to be creative “to respond to the moment in a way that doesn’t just repeat what’s always been done before (and perhaps always failed before too).
More and more schools are incorporating project-based learning and design thinking‚”a five-stage process for solving complex problems that includes (1) defining a problem; (2) understanding the human needs involved; (3) reframing the problem in human-centric ways; (4) generating a multitude of ideas; and (5) a hands-on approach in prototyping and testing.
As with so much about our emotional lives, there’s a feedback loop at work: feeling good encourages us to act creatively, which makes us feel even better.
One explanation is that sympathy is a reaction to other people’s suffering and therefore produces intrinsic motivation to generate solutions that reduce their distress.
You could be brilliant, with an IQ that Einstein would envy, but if you’re unable to recognize your emotions and see how they’re affecting your behavior, all that cognitive firepower won’t do you as much good as you might imagine.
Integral and incidental. Integral emotions are directly caused by the action at hand‚”we’re fearful while climbing a tricky mount”n path; we’re joyful as we’re falling in love. All completely understandable and connected to the moment. Incidental emotions have nothing to do with what’s going on “as we described earlier, we had an argument with our kids, and our lingering feelings of frustration and anger influence how we drive to work or interact with colleagues at the office.”
Becoming an emotion scientist will help us to recognize the physical symptoms that sometimes accompany strong feelings.
Lisa Feldman Barrett, a professor at Northeastern University, recently shared with me that when our “body budget” is running low and we feel distressed, our br”ns search around for things that might be wrong in our lives to make sense of the distress.
Empathy can help you connect with someone, but it won’t necessarily help you to support a person in managing his or her difficult emotion or stop you from getting lost in someone else’s shoes.
Neither is what we commonly think of as emotional stability. We tend to view a calm, poised demeanor as a sign of superior emotional wisdom. It denotes inner peace and harmony. People who are serene and “together” may possess great emotion skills, but the same may be true of those who are conspicuously neurotic.
They’re known by the acronym “RULER.” The first skill: Recognizing the occurrence of an emotion “by noticing a change in one’s own thoughts, energy, or body or in someone else’s facial expression, body language, or voice.”
The second skill: Understanding, which means that we know the c”se of emotions and see how they influence our thoughts and decisions. This helps us make better predictions about our own and others’ behavior.
The third skill: Labeling, which refers to making connections between an emotional experience and the precise terms to describe it. People with a more mature ‚”feelings vocabulary‚” can differentiate among related emotions such as pleased, happy, elated, and ecstatic.
The fourth skill: Expressing, which means knowing how and when to display our emotions, depending on the setting, the people we’re with, and the larger context.
The fifth skill: Regulating, which involves monitoring, tempering, and modifying emotional reactions in helpful ways, in order to reach personal and professional goals.
An emotion “happy, sad, angry” arises from an appraisal of an internal or external stimulus. By appraisal I mean an interpretation of what is happening in the world or my mind through the lens of my present goals or concerns.
When schoolchildren in the United States are asked to draw a happy face, it sports a huge smile. When Asian children are given the same task, the smiles are smaller. This doesn’t mean they are less happy than their American counterparts, only that perhaps they experience and express their happiness differently.
A feeling is our internal response to an emotion.
Say they’re feeling supported, connected, valued, respected, and appreciated. These words do not refer to emotions per se but are motivational and relationship states that are steeped in emotion.
We often have more than one emotion at the same time. I’m excited about my new job, and I’m anxious over whether I can handle it.
We can even have emotions about emotions. We call them meta-emotions. I could be afraid of public speaking and embarrassed about being afraid. Or I’m being bullied so I feel victimized, and I’m ashamed of myself for allowing that to happen.
A mood is more diffuse and less intense than an emotion or a feeling but longer lasting.
Personality traits can change over time, but when they do, it happens gradually.
Emotion scientist seeks to understand without making value judgments or rendering opinions about whether feelings are justified or not, beneficial or not, or reflecting an objective reality.
To an emotion judge, all that rem”ns is to deem someone’s emotional state helpful or harmful, positive or negative, good or bad, without a hope for growth and improvement.
Well-being depends less on objective events than on how those events are perceived, dealt with, and shared with others.
If you can turn off your analytic mind for a moment, you will get a clear‚”visceral‚”sense of your underlying emotional state.
The Mood Meter was built based on what is called ‚”the circumplex model of emotion,‚” as developed by James Russell, a professor at Boston College. He s”d that human emotions have two core properties or dimensions‚”energy and pleasantness.
We’ve all sometimes misunderstood other people’s emotions when we based our assumptions only on unspoken signals.
“What do you think I was feeling?” One person will say I was angry. Another says I looked calm. To a third, I seemed disapproving. One thinks I was flirting with her. Someone else says she couldn’t tell what I was feeling. Actually, I tell them, I was trying to express contentment. That leads to the discussion of who (if anyone) was right. I know what I was trying to display, but does that mean I know how I was coming across? Observers are often certain they know how I feel.
How often are you misread? How often are you misreading those around you? Do you even know?
There are complex differences, too, depending on a variety of factors. Cultural influences matter.
There are also differences due to personality.
Finally, there are differences based on context or setting.
Our perception of emotion is easily swayed by the opinions of others.
There are also other prejudices “gender stereotypes and racial implicit bias (both attitudes that affect our actions and decisions in an unconscious manner)” that influence how we read emotions.
No wonder we’re all so prone to being misinterpreted and to misunderstanding the emotional states of others.
We observe someone’s cues or behavior and wrongly attribute them to our own emotional state.
It’s human nature to pay more attention to negative emotional information than positive. Starting in childhood, it’s how we rely on the reactions of other people to measure the danger in any given situation.
It’s not that they didn’t want to do better. They just had no idea how. The way they treated me was probably the way they were treated when they were children.
Understanding emotions begins when we start to answer that question “why do you or I feel this way? What is the underlying reason for this feeling? What’s causing it? It’s rarely a simple matter.”
The core skill of Understanding is the search for the underlying theme or possible cause that fuels the emotion. We’re not asking questions and listening to answers just to provide a sympathetic ear. As we listen, we’re looking for a meaning that goes deeper than the words being said.
We also need to keep in mind what psychologists refer to as ”appraisal theory.” Many emotions “both positive and negative” have universal, underlying themes, but their individual causes vary from person to person. All day, each of us rapidly, and even unconsciously, evaluates situations or experiences, and these evaluations lead to different emotions.
It’s the listener’s job to remain calm and try to hear the words that aren’t being said: yet.
To understand our own feelings: What just happened? What was I doing before this happened? What might have caused my feelings or reaction? What happened this morning, or last night, that might be involved in this? What has happened before with this person that might be connected? (In the event that your emotion has to do with a relationship.) What memories do I have about this situation or place?
We can ask the other person: What might have happened to cause this feeling? What usually makes you feel this way? What’s going on that you’re feeling this way? What were you doing just before you started feeling this way? Who were you with? What do you need right now? What can I do to support you?
As a teaching exercise, we’ll sometimes have children read a story, then ask them: What does this character feel? Why does he or she feel that way? What do you think might have caused this character to feel this way? What about what happened to the character helps you to understand his or her feelings? If the same thing happened to you, what do you think you would feel?
Shame is a judgment, but from the outside from our perception that other people believe we broke a moral or ethical rule or some shared convention.
Guilt is a judgment we make of ourselves when we feel remorse or responsibility for something we did,
Embarrassment is when we’ve been caught violating some social norm,
Jealousy is a form of fear “fear of losing someone important to you, especially to someone else.”
Envy, on the other hand, has to do with wanting something that someone else has.
Joy feels energetic and contentment feels calm, and joy is caused by a sense of getting what one wants and contentment is caused by a sense of completeness (not wanting or needing anything).
Paradoxical to what we’ve been taught, the constant pursuit of happiness can be self-defeating. Accumulating research shows that the more we value happiness, the more likely we are to feel disappointed.
We’re not just verbalizing questions‚”we’re also sending unspoken messages as we make our inquiries. I’m talking about the nonverbal cues we display, the facial expressions, body language, and vocal tone that say we’re genuinely interested in the answers, that we care about the feelings of the person to whom we’re talking and are willing to give this conversation the time and attention it deserves.
It’s how an emotion judge approaches the situation: just waiting to hear enough to blame you for your feelings and shut this conversation down.
We need to grant the permission to feel, and then ask the right questions, if we wish to know what’s behind that outburst.
We focus on behavior rather than on what might have caused it. It’s like treating the symptom and not the disease. As a result, the best we manage to do is modify behavior by force. And this distracts us from the underlying causes.
Of course, how could my mother know which, if any, of those had been the case? She couldn’t, unless she began the arduous process of asking the right questions, listening to the answers without judging them, without challenging them, and instead letting them sink in.
Each emotion has what psychologist Richard Lazarus termed a “core relational theme”… a meaning.
Had you detected the anxiety, you could have suggested strategies to calm your child’s nerves, like a breathing or visualization exercise. If your child was angry because of unfair treatment, you could have approached the teacher to see if anything could be done differently. If your child was afraid of being physically beaten the next day, an immediate action was needed‚”a talk with the principal or bus monitor. If your child had felt shame, it’s possible that professional counseling was needed.
Without a proper vocabulary, we can’t label our emotions, and if we can’t label them, we can’t properly consider them or put them into perspective.
Are you enraged or merely frustrated? Frightened or simply concerned? Or, if you’re in the green, are you secure or complacent? Blissful or content?
This is why the Mood Meter is such an important tool: we start with a quadrant, visualized as a basic color, and then narrow the search for a particular shade.
Our emotions become a form of communication, a way to share the experience of being alive.
Once we are able to communicate, with specificity, what we’re feeling, the people in our lives can look beyond our behaviors to understand their causes.
Affective labeling is linked to lower activation of the amygdala, the br”n region that’s activated when we feel negative emotions, and higher activation in the right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (RVLPFC), which supports emotion regulation.
The term granularity provides a useful way of thinking about how we label our emotions. All it means is that we define what we feel as precisely and narrowly as words allow‚”down to the grains‚” rather than settle for the generalized terms we tend to lean on.
One word that gets a lot of attention in psychology textbooks describes the feeling of happiness or satisfaction caused by someone else’s misfortune, or what is known in German as schadenfreude.
Litost is a Czech word meaning, according to the novelist Milan Kundera, “a state of torment created by the sudden sight of one’s own misery.” Iktsuarpok is the Inuit word that describes the anticipation you feel when you’re so impatient for a guest’s arrival at your home that you keep going outside to check. Hygge is the fabled Danish sensation experienced while sitting around a fire in winter surrounded by friends. Kvell is the Yiddish word that describes the feeling of overwhelming love and pride you get when you see what your child can do. And ya’arburnee is Arabic for “May you bury me” meaning, the hope that you will die before a loved one because you couldn’t stand to live without him or her.
Anxiety, as we learned earlier, is worry about future uncertainty and our inability to control what will happen to us.
Fear is the palpable sense of a danger that lies just ahead and will eventually strike at us.
Pressure is the force from the outside that tells us something important is at stake, and whether we succeed or f”l will depend on how we perform.
Stress is what we feel when we’re facing too many demands from all of the above and fear we may not be up to it.
Ask yourself now: How am I feeling? And try coming up with as many words‚”more thoughtful and precise ones than you usually deploy. That’s how this skill improves.
In a sense, expressing emotions is like a transaction between people. You express, and I react. In that back-and-forth, we may come to understand each other and be better off for it. But the opposite could also be true: your emotions might provoke something negative in me, something I’m not prepared to deal with or control. In which case, honest expression has the potential to distance us or make both our lives significantly worse, at least in the short run.
The inability to express those emotions is like a continuous pain that lingers on. In a way, the silence is as damaging as the assault itself.
When we suppress those feelings, we send a message to everyone in our path: I’m fine even when I’m not. Stay back. Keep your distance. Don’t ask why, because I don’t want to tell you what’s going on. But when we express our emotions, we’re saying: Here’s what I feel and why. Here’s what I want to happen next. Here’s what I need from you right now.
Researchers have identified the following in the newborn’s supply of emotional expressions: Interest Enjoyment Surprise Sadness/distress Anger Discomfort/pain Fear Disgust
We need to clear up a misunderstanding that may have been building in your mind: that permission to feel means license to let it all hang out, to whine, yell, act on every emotional impulse, and behave as though we have no control over what we feel, so we should just go for it and freak out. Some people think of this kind of venting as being authentic. But habitual, unhealthy methods of expression “yelling, gossiping, verbal or physical aggression, among many others” almost always creates havoc in our lives.
When men are forceful, they’re strong and assertive; when women are, they’re called bossy and controlling. When a man raises his voice, everyone snaps to attention; when a woman does, she’s dismissed as shrill or hysterical.
We take it for granted that in a relationship, the person with more power has greater latitude in expressing emotions.
Sometimes, sharing with other people is too difficult. In those cases, it may be better to express it in writing.
Stanford University psychology professor James Gross, an authority on emotion regulation, defines it as “the process by which individuals influence which emotions they have, when they have them, and how they experience and express these emotions.”
The strategies that work for you today might not work for you tomorrow. And the strategies that work for you might not work for your partner or child.
Originally, co-regulation was a term used to describe the back-and-forth between a caregiver and infant to support a baby’s stress regulation.
Mindful breathing helps us to calm the body and mind so we can be fully present and less reactive or overwhelmed by what’s happening around us.
The second category we’ll call forward-looking strategies. This simply means that we anticipate something will cause an unwanted emotion and either steer clear of it or modify our physical environment.
The third category is attention-shifting strategies.
The fourth we’ll call cognitive-reframing strategies. We first analyze whatever’s triggering an emotional experience and then find a new way of seeing it.
If we can predict which situations or encounters will provoke an emotional reaction, we can take measures to prevent them from happening.
… walked away from rudeness because you felt incapable of facing it down, and every time it happens you feel belittled and humiliated or enraged, maybe there’s something else going on “like an inability to have a difficult conversation or stand up for yourself and deal with unpleasantness. Perhaps you need to find a long-term strategy better than avoidance.”
Researchers Ethan Kross at the University of Michigan and Jason Moser at Michigan State University have studied how our brains respond to self-talk.
Referring to yourself in the third person leads people to think about themselves more similarly to how they think about others, and you can see evidence for this in the br”n.
We use reappraisal as a way to reimagine or reframe whatever is triggering an emotional experience and then react instead to that new interpretation.
Participants who watched the three-minute “stress is positive” videos three times a week had a significant reduction in negative health symptoms and an increase in work performance compared with those who watched the “stress is negative” videos.
Reframing has been allowing you to live in denial or disavowal about something unspoken and unhealthy that’s going on between the two of you.
When it comes to reappraisal, we need to ask ourselves: Am I doing this simply to justify avoiding a difficult, sensitive problem? Am I doing this because I know that addressing the issue is going to lead to a long, tortured, anguished conversation?
The Meta-Moment involves hitting the brakes and stepping out of time. We call it meta because it’s a moment about a moment.
Justin Bariso wrote, “Pausing helps you refrain from making a permanent decision based on a temporary emotion.”
“How have I handled situations like this in the past?” Or “What would my best self do right now?” That ideal, hypothetical person comprises attributes we would use to describe our best selves from our own perspective and from the perspective of others‚ how we’d like to be seen and experienced.
Because emotion regulation requires brainpower‚ moving from “automatic and unhelpful to deliberate and helpful strategies is hard work!” it depends on seemingly unrelated factors such as diet, exercise, and sleep. When we eat poorly, our minds don’t function properly.
Mike Tyson had it right when he said‚”Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
Along with permission to feel, we must also give ourselves permission to fail.
We’re not born with emotion knowledge; we mostly respond to stimuli—we’re hungry, we’re cold, we’re uncomfortable for one reason or another, and so we react. Nature provides that response to make sure we get the attention we need to survive infancy. Everything beyond that is learned in the nest.
Parents who value emotions tend to be aware of their children’s feelings and are able to act like coaches. They don’t respond with threats of discipline when their kids express anger or sadness—instead, they see strong feelings as a central part of healthy development.
Which feelings did your parents easily express, and which were never displayed? How did your parents handle your emotions, especially the difficult ones such as anger, fear, and sadness?
What are your triggers?
How do you want your children to talk about you when they’re older and looking back?
Putting our emotional needs in writing has a way of making them real for ourselves and everyone else. It acts as a reminder for those times when we feel overwhelmed. It serves like a contract—a formal agreement drafted in a moment of calm consideration, to help you during moments when you are anything but calm and considerate. You may feel a little self-conscious posting a charter on your refrigerator door or hanging it on a wall. But if you try it, you might find that it works.
We can boil the entire process of bringing emotional intelligence into your family down to these four steps.
Step 1: Set yourself up for success. Build your family charter! Consider the words on the charter each day. Those adjectives should always be somewhere in your mind. Remember, you have to take the Meta-Moment and be your best self before you can help a child to regulate. You are the role model. Your facial expressions, vocal tones, and body language matter.
Step 2: Explore. Be the emotion scientist—the learner, not the knower—and listen to understand, not to build your own argument. Remember that behavior is the symptom, it’s not the emotion. Validate, show unconditional love and support, help to deactivate if necessary. Don’t attribute emotions to your child. Allow them to express their feelings. Listen for themes and help them to label.
Step 3: Strategize. Once you know what your child is feeling and have a sense of the situation, you can support with a short-term strategy: self-talk, reappraisal, a hug, and just being present. The strategy you might want your child to use might not be the strategy that works best for you. And strategies often bomb at first, so your child needs your support to build this muscle. And have long-term strategies ready—from helping your child to problem-solve to seeking professional counseling.
Step 4: Follow up. Emotion regulation is a lifelong journey. History often repeats itself. Kids need regular check-ins and continuous support. Consider: What are the conditions we can create for our children to support their healthy emotional development? How might my best self support my child? And have compassion for yourself and your child. It doesn’t mean letting yourself or your child off the hook. It means you approach setbacks in a more constructive way, learning from them instead of beating yourself up.
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