By Lesley Alderman, LMSW
One of my favorite household gizmos is my P-Touch label maker. Organizing my papers in file folders and putting labels on the folders helps me to feel organized and calm.
The Power of Labeling Feelings
Labeling feelings can have a similar soothing effect.
Let’s say you have a fight with a friend (or partner, or boss). You’re really upset. You might tell yourself, “Oh get over it!” and move on with your day. A better approach would be to take a few moments to put words to what you are feeling -perhaps you feel hurt, betrayed, or misunderstood – and then talk about those feelings or write them down.
An example behind the power of labeling feelings is you help reduce feelings negative impact by increasing your understanding and acceptance of them.
Here’s how this process works in your brain. When you have an argument (or experience any strong emotion) your amygdala – the part of the brain that processes intense emotions – becomes activated. The amygdala then triggers a cascade of reactions in the body, like increased heart rate, sweaty palms, and shallow breathing. These reactions make you feel more upset and stressed. When you attach a label to a strong feeling, the amygdala calms down.
A study conducted by UCLA’s Social Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory, showed in humans how this process works. Subjects were hooked up to an fMRI machine, which monitored their brain activity. When the subjects were shown photographs of faces expressing strong emotions, their amygdala’s became active. When the subjects were asked to accurately label the emotion in the picture, the amygdala became less active. What’s more, when the subjects labeled the emotion, their right frontal lobe became more engaged. This brain region is involved in vigilance and discrimination. Naming a feeling, then, seems to transform it from raw emotion into an issue that can be considered and analyzed. This region of the brain is also associated with controlling negative feelings.
By labeling your feelings, you are helping your brain put the brakes on your emotional response. And you are giving your brain the chance to make sense of the feelings you have just experienced.
Naming your feelings can also help you accept them. Labeling feelings gives them validity – they become legitimate files in your emotional desk drawer, so to speak. You don’t have to squash them, or disavow them, you can just allow them to be. The power of labeling feelings is extraordinary.
New York, New Jersey, Conneticuit, Florida, California & Massachusetts
Get Started Today
We’re pleased you are here, and we’re committed to finding the right person to help you with your mental health.
Step 1: Connect
Finding the right person to help can seem challenging, which is why we offer multiple ways to connect with us. You can schedule a complimentary 20-minute consultation with our highly trained Clinical Coordinator, Alli Malamut, by either:
- Calling or texting us at: 212-286-8801
- Email us at: email@example.com
- By completing the form to the left.
If you do not reach us directly, you can expect to hear back from us the same day or within one business day.
Step 2: Get Matched
In order to find you an ideal fitting clinician or therapist, our Clinical Coordinator will want to learn more about you. Specifically, it would be helpful to hear about your concerns, personal preferences, and any relevant logistical matters (for example, in-person or video sessions? best time or day to meet?) During this call, please feel free to ask us any questions as well!
Please feel free to share with us if you have already identified someone you would like to work with from Our Team page.
Step 3: Check the fit
Connect with the clinician or therapist you are matched with to ask questions, share history, and make sure you feel comfortable about moving forward. If so, book your first session. If it does not feel right, circle back with us.
Step 4: Get started
Schedule time to meet with your new clinician or therapist and work towards living a more fulfilling life!
Over the years, we’ve found our thoughtful matching process is the surest way to find you an ideal clinician or therapist and achieve the best outcome for you.
18 East 48th Street, Suites 1104 and 1202, NYC 10017