Test your emotional literacy

Posted on: June 4, 2007

Anger is a secondary emotion that is always driven by some set of primary emotions. The average person -including myself -may have a very limited emotional vocabulary to describe how one is really feeling consequently they may be driven to anger simply because one is not able to find the words to express our emotions. The good news is that emotional literacy can be learned. I have found that learning a new emotional vocabulary has been vital in the lives of my clients who want to control their anger. This intervention takes us deeper into understanding what drives us to explosive anger.

I love examples so I will give a recent case from my own life that illustrates how awareness, identification and naming of our emotions can avert arguments. The other day my wife gave me a few errands to run at the last minute she added a grocery list that was longer than I expected. I immediately felt a surge in my body and was quickly able to identify and verbalize that I was feeling overwhelmed. Since we had had the conversation about emotional vocabulary many times she understood and we agreed that when I got to the grocery I would call her and we would go over the list then. Without the emotional literacy that scenario could have easily resulted in an argument and believe you me it has in the past. Anger results when one is not able to differentiate emotions and consequently react to the feeling inside. An emotion vocabulary is a first step to identifying what we are really feeling before it results in anger. Here is a list of feeling words seldom used.

A person can say I feel–absent-minded, accused, addicted, ambushed, beaten down, berated, bewildered, blamed, accused, chided, closed in, challenged, cut-off, defenseless, demoralized, discouraged, discontent, directionless, disenfranchised, and dictated to.

In later blog entries I will add more words and suggest how they can be used. Also continue to look our for my articles entitled- Change Your language-Reduce Your Anger

Carlos Todd, LPC, NCC, CAMF

President of the American Association of Anger Management Providers

Carlos Todd is the owner of Todd’s Anger Management Solutions in Charlotte, NC



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June 2007
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