Posts Tagged ‘emotional vocabulary

One of the heaviest burdens that you can carry is a grudge. Carrying a grudge is destructive to your health as it causes undue stress. Most people who end up carrying a grudge will find that the anger that they have built up over the years takes a toll on not only their mental health, but their physical health as well.  One of the most emotionally competent things that you can do is to learn to forgive. If you cannot learn to forgive, there is no moving forward in your life. You will continue to live in the past and relive slights that took place years ago.  The past is gone.  There is nothing that you can do to get it back again.  If you hold on to the anger that you felt in the past, it is unhealthy for you. Forgive yourself and others and move on with your life. When you do this, you will achieve emotional competence.


In order to be emotionally competent, you need to be aware of the needs of others as well as yourself. Before you can use techniques to build greater awareness, ask yourself honestly if you are selfish or selfless. Selfish people are those who cannot consider the feelings of someone else. They can only think of their own feelings, like infants. They are usually called out for being selfish and may have trouble with all types of relationships – including personal and business relationships.  If you fall between the two opposites, you most likely have to build awareness about other people as well as yourself.

Much has been said about not making decisions based on our emotions and this is true to some extent. However our emotions are our window to who we are and what we want  in this life.  Even our  values and beliefs are influenced by how we feel about  them–somewhere in all our decisions is an emotion. 

Often our anger is fueled by a lack of awareness of who we are and what we want. We therefore tend to make decisions that are not in our best interest and our unmet needs fuel our anger. I am advocating that we build a stronger emotional vocabulary so that we become better and differentiating what we feel and the meaning behind our feelings. Improve your emotional vocabulary will be a vital first step to improving your decision making.   

Carlos Todd, LPC, NCC, CAMF

President of the American Association of Anger Management Providers

Anger Management/Executive Coaching of Charlotte, North Carolina



Confronting the problems in our lives and living an authentic existence can be elusive for many. Some of us hate to confront the things that are enviably making us unhappy. We hear our emotions telling us that that we need to make changes in our job, marriage, health and life’s focus yet we ignore and AVOID these signals to our detriment.

All of us know intuitively what is good for us and what is not so good but for some it is just too hard to deal with the emotional upheaval that will result when we decide to make a change. However, no matter how we try to avoid change, our emotions signal the existence of problems through feelings of fear, anxiety, apprehension, frustration, exhaustion, depression and discomfort. Some fail to listen, and the result is a feeling of vulnerability and defensiveness.

This defensiveness creates hyper-vigilance. Such hyper-vigilance is like proverbially living with the hand on the gun. Any perceived attack by the outside world, whether it be from another driver, spouse, co-worker, pastor, friend, child, or the unsuspecting man on the street is viewed as an attack on the self and ANGER comes in to defend what beliefs and values we hold dear. This process all starts with avoidance, and while it is not the only way to explain anger, it is one of the ways that is associated with dreams being unfulfilled.
Carlos Todd, LPC, NCC, CAMF
President of the American Association of Anger Management Providers
Anger Management/Executive Coaching of Charlotte, North Carolina

Brain research indicates putting problems into words eases emotional distress.

by Lea Winerman

Tell your troubles to a Guatemalan worry doll, place it beneath your pillow and, according to legend, those worries will be gone by morning. That’s just one example of the culture-spanning idea that putting problems into words can blunt those problems’ emotional impact. Centuries of thinkers—from Spinoza to William James to every psychologist who practices talk therapy—have recognized this peculiar power of language, according to UCLA psychologist Matthew Lieberman, PhD.

“There’s this idea that putting bad feelings into words can help wash worries away,” said Lieberman at APA’s 2006 Annual Convention. He described how he and his colleagues are investigating that idea using brain imaging.

In a study published in Science (Vol. 302, No. 5643, pages 290–292) in 2003, Lieberman and his colleague used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to scan the brains of participants as they played a computer game called “cyberball.” In cyberball, participants think that they’re playing an onscreen version of catch with two other people who are using computers linked to their own. For a while the two other people throw the ball regularly to the participant’s onscreen character, but after a while they stop and begin to throw the ball only to each other.

In reality, the other people don’t exist and the “game” is simply an automatic computer program, but the participant doesn’t know this and feels the sting of social rejection. Using fMRI, the researchers found that this social rejection activated an area of the brain that also lights up in response to physical pain—the anterior cingulate cortex.

However, they also found that people who had relatively less activity in that area—and who reported feeling relatively less distress—had more activity in the right ventral lateral prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain associated with verbalizing thoughts and language production. So, according to Lieberman, this suggests that putting feelings into words may activate this part of the prefrontal cortex, which may in turn suppress the area of the brain that produces emotional distress.

In another study, to be published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, Lieberman and his colleagues tested their language hypothesis more directly. They asked 30 participants to view pictures of angry, scared or happy-looking faces. Half of the time the participants tried to match the target face to another picture of a face with a similar expression. The other half of the time, they tried to match the face to a word that correctly labeled its emotion.

Using fMRI, the researchers found that when the participants labeled the faces’ emotions using words, they showed less activity in the amygdala—an area of the brain associated with emotional distress. At the same time, they showed more activity in the right ventral lateral prefrontal cortex—the same language-related area that showed up in the cyberball study.

So, again, this suggests that verbalizing an emotion may activate the right ventral lateral prefrontal cortex, which then suppresses the areas of the brain that produce emotional pain.

“[In talk therapy] we tend to focus primarily on content and enhanced understandings and changed understandings,” said Lieberman. “But it’s not entirely irrelevant that they all involve putting feelings into words.”

Each of us carry an “emotional signature.” This concept referrers to a cluster of emotions that define where we are emotionally. This cluster is called an emotional signature. Are you feeling trapped, cornered, overworked, “vision-less”, uninspired and hopeless? Do you feel lively, hopeful, infinite, fulfilled, open and motivated? Then each of these form a cluster of emotions that determine a persons signature. Knowing your signature has much to do with how one manages his or her anger. The good news is that our emotional signature is variable and can be modified

Carlos Todd, LPC, NCC, CAMF

President of the American Association of Anger Management Providers

Anger Management/Executive Coaching of Charlotte, North Carolina


As children we dream and workout these dreams through play. On the playground children become doctors, lawyers, firemen, policemen, truck drivers etc. Children learn to perceive what they love, what they hate, what makes them happy and sad on the playground. The full ranges of emotions are essentially felt on the play ground.  The child who feels the joy of engaging in a specific type of play will gravitate towards that play. Over time, the child learns from the emotional signals who they are and what their needs are.


As the child ages into adulthood, some of the grand dreams of the playground may fade. The desire to fully express oneself in a chosen profession, marriage or vocation may not be realized. However, the emotional signals that tell us what we love continue. The mind senses the feelings of lost dreams and the unmet need for fulfillment. If the needs of the playground are not met in adult fulfillment individuals can become, hyper-vigilance, defensive and prone to anger. Therefore, it is not unusual to find those who have problems managing their anger also may have had secret dreams and visions of their lives that have been unfulfilled.


A well designed anger management class cannot fulfill a persons dreams, but can help the individual become more emotionally intelligent to identify their emotional needs and fulfill them in ways that meets the needs that triggered the anger. If you have unfulfilled dreams and display persistent anger, an anger management class that teaches anger management, stress management, emotional intelligence and communication skills may be right for you.

 Carlos Todd, LPC, NCC, CAMF

President of the American Association of Anger Management Providers

Anger Management/Executive Coaching of Charlotte, North Carolina    

May 2018
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