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Make Emotions Less Emotional

When I ran my improv session for the Australasian Facilitators’ Network Conference recently, I mentioned that being able to reframe on the fly was especially important when things aren’t going so well.

There’s an outline of some of the neurological research in David Rock’s classic Your Brain at Work.

The bottom line is when we label or name an emotion it can help us feel better. When we then rename it we can attenuate it (or even ramp it up if that’s what you want!). Here’s a scholarly article on it. Or read Mr Rock’s book.

So in practice this means if something bad has happened, like for example

  • your boss has just emailed you with a truckload of urgent work and you’re already overloaded
  • your kid’s school calls to say you need to come in and see the principal
  • you just got dumped
  • you lost a contract

we tend to catastrophise and to be all shaken up.

Our brain gets scared, worried and anxious. We can go into panic mode, like our life is in danger. So our brain is thinking dinosaur-style (fight and flight, tend and befriend, depending on which research you read and which gender your brain is).

When we label it “you’re just scared, you’re ok”, it calms the brain down again.

Great skill when under pressure.

Other posts about emotions and reframing:

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