How Do You Feel, Really? Why Naming Your Emotions is So Important


Labeling the exact feeling you have in a given moment— calling an emotion what it is—can be surprisingly powerful.

Editor’s Note: This is part of a series that explores the psychology of “rebounding” from setbacks in life, and provides four mental skills that you can use to help sharpen your response to injuries or other disappointment. This is the first mental drill in the series.

There’s no doubt about it: Getting hurt sucks. It’s painful, of course, but it also involves far more than muscles, bones, tendons and ligaments—it’s a full-body physical, mental, and emotional experience. And it’s often the mindset to which you approach the disappointment that will determine how quickly and successfully you bounce back.

Experts have long studied the psychological impact of injuries and other life setbacks, and through their research and work with athletes, they have identified mental skills and tools that can help anyone build more strength and resiliency in the face of any challenge.

In our book Rebound: Train Your Mind to Bounce Back Stronger From Sports Injuries, we provide 15 essential mental skills for injury recovery—plus hundreds of stories and interviews with athletes who have been there—to help you chart a more positive comeback. This is one of those simple skills you can put into action right now.

Mindset to Master: Owning Your Emotions

Emotions are often distinct and nuanced, but we tend to generalize our feelings, clumping them into buckets of “good” and “bad.” Labeling the exact feeling you have in a given moment— calling an emotion what it is—can be surprisingly powerful.

Use the Emotion Decoder when you are feeling stuck or upset, or any time you want a little more insight into your state of mind. Sometimes just the act of naming a feeling provides relief, allowing you to move through it and then move on from it.

Click the links below to continue reading more mindset tools:

Mindset to Master #2: Going FAR

Mindset to Master #3: Practicing Bad News/Good News

Mindset to Master #4: Seeing Through the “Funhouse Mirror”

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