Name It to Tame It
Memorial Day is a day of honoring and remembering those who have given their lives in service of our country. It’s also a day to remember any loved one who has died. Memories can be positive or negative and bring up many mixed emotions. Naming these emotions is an important step in healing, and in gaining healthy control over their impact in our lives.
A recent study on the power of naming emotions showed that our emotional state profoundly influences the quality of our work, yet many of us aren’t aware of how we’re feeling at any given moment or what the impact may be.
Emotions are just a form of energy, forever seeking expression. The most prevalent unexpressed emotions in the workplace revolve around suffering. Grief, loss, embarrassment, anger, fear, anxiety. It’s not that suffering is a modern phenomenon or that it’s the only thing we feel at work. What has changed is the pervasive impact of increased demand in our lives, leading to anxiety, uncertainty and a sense of feeling overwhelmed.
Here are some lists of emotions, with faces, to help you identify what you are experiencing.
We can’t change what we don’t notice. Denying or avoiding feelings doesn’t make them go away, nor does it lessen their impact on us, even if it’s unconscious. Noticing and naming emotions gives us the chance to take a step back and make choices about what to do next.
This Memorial Day marks five years since my father died of prostate cancer. Some emotions fade, others surface. This year I am particularly grateful to my father for being a role model of how to name emotions and express them in healthy ways.