How big is your emotional vocabulary? Did you know that scientists have proven the more words you have to describe your feelings and emotions not only can you feel more but you are also more likely to be able too process and handle the emotions you do feel? I find that kinda sh!t fascinating!
For me emotional vocabulary becomes truly interesting when you start working with children. Sometimes, as adults, we think that our kids understand what we mean by words like ‘self esteem’, ‘courage’, ‘pride’ or even ‘confidence’ but in many cases a child’s understanding of these phrases is limited and ambiguous. We ask our kids to be confident but do they know what that means? Do you know what that means?!
At the weekend I was fortunate enough to work with about 150 kids ranging from 4 to 18 years old and I asked almost all of them, especially the younger ones, what they think confidence is. The answers ranged from ‘being brave’ to ‘not being shy’ to a whole variety of other answers. Interestingly, when I asked them what they worried about, they had so many more words and descriptions for how they felt scared, worried and anxious. Why is it that our kids have a bigger negative emotional vocabulary than positive? For me its about our ability to know the subtle difference between feelings.
For example, if I say confident to you, do you know how that feels? If I say self esteem to you, do you know how that feels? If I say strong to you, do you know how it feels? Are these the same to you? Or different? Can you have confidence and self esteem and feel strong all at the same time? (by the way, I think you can).
But if I say depressed, anxious, shy, concerned, worried, sad, scared, upset. I bet you know what every single one of them feels like.
I suppose tonight is more about something to make you think than a lesson or anything. I think it would be an interesting experiment for you to examine your own positive emotional vocabulary. How many words do you have to describe your good feelings and what do you need to do to be able to find more? And, if you are a parent, what words do you teach your kids more of? Just a thought, so enjoy your thinking.
I leave you tonight feeling content, satisfied, happy, relaxed and positive. I’ll leave it up to you to decide if that means I’m talking about you, me or both of us.