There is a little bagful of words that we carry around all the time, the one we often refer to as our Vocabulary. We replenish our wardrobes often, throwing out old shirts and dresses that no longer fit and add fresher ones that define us better with each growing year. But that little bag of words remains unchanged. Years go by and we often hear ourselves saying the same words… “Oh that makes me so mad” “I feel bad” “I am so angry”… especially with our feelings, we tend to use very few and generic words to express how we feel.
Recently on a short trip with a friend, I overheard her conversation with her 7 year old, who was immensely upset at the prospect of going to school alone the next day, because his older brother was sick and needed to take the next day off. He begged and cried to urge his mom to let him stay at home as well, for which his mom replied that when he is sick his brother doesn’t stay home and goes to school alone. This little 7 year old responded “ but Ma, I am a different person from him, I have my own feelings and I am scared to go alone in the bus”
Now for a 7 year old that was pretty impressive. He was not only able to communicate that he was his own person with his own set of feelings but was clearly able to pinpoint exactly what feeling (Fear of the bus) stopped him from going alone to school.
While all of us experience a wide array of emotions, only a select few can accurately identify them and use the right words to express them. This capability of individuals to recognize their own emotions and those of others, discern between different feelings and label them is what is known as emotional Intelligence. Research shows that only 36 % of people have the words to do this. Without the insights into exactly what we are feeling and without the right words to express them, we are binging on many problems. Unlabeled emotions often go misunderstood, which leads to irrational choices and counterproductive actions.
While many might describe themselves as simply feeling “bad,” emotionally intelligent people can pinpoint whether they feel “irritable,” “frustrated,” “disappointed” or “anxious.” The more specific your word choice, the better insight you have into exactly how you are feeling, what caused it and what you should do about it.
So our kitty of words needs to grow, with feeling words..and you will be surprised how many there that we can start to use. The right words go a long way and as Rumi famously said “Raise your words, not voice, it is rain that grows flowers not thunder”