Although that question is often asked, it’s not often answered…at least not really answered.

As one who grew up in an Italian family, the question didn’t have to be asked. Whatever was felt was expressed…from the affection of my grandfather to the chronic negativity of a neighbor.

This question, however, is at the heart of Marc Brackett’s insightful and useful book, Permission to Feel: Unlocking the Power of Emotions to Help Our Kids, Ourselves, and Our Society Thrive. Brackett, the director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, references numerous studies identifying the negative consequences in children and adults who live without permission to feel or the strategies for expressing feelings in healthy ways.

Brackett presents the emotion skills necessary for children and adults to thrive by using the acronym RULER:

R: Recognizing the occurrence of an emotion.

U: Understand the cause of emotions and how they influence our thinking and behavior.

L: Labeling our emotions with precise terms to describe them.

E: Expressing by knowing how and when to display our emotions.

R: Regulating by managing emotions in helpful ways.

Developing emotional intelligence is important because emotions affect:

·       Our ability to pay attention

·       Our decision making

·       Our relationships

·       Our physical and mental health

·       Our performance and creativity

Brackett offers numerous practical strategies for dealing with our emotions in effective and healthy ways. We’ll share two in this week’s Wellness Wednesday message.

1. The Meta-Moment

·      Sense the shift: recognize when you are activated or have an impulse to say or do something you might regret.

·      Stop or pause: step back and breathe.

·      See your best self: imagine what your best self would do.

·      Strategize and act: choose the path that would close the gap between your ‘triggered’ self and your emerging best self.

2. Create a Charter: a charter is a written document detailing how everyone in your family/class wants to feel. The charter is created by asking three questions:

·      How do we want to feel as a family/class?

·      What can we do to experience these feelings as often as possible?

·      What can we do when we are not living the charter?

Consider using Top 20 strategies, like Living Above the Line, practicing Instant Replays, or communicating ‘You matter’, in imagining your best self or creating your charter.

How are you feeling? “How people feel,” claims Brackett, “and what we do with our feelings determines, to a large extent, the quality of our lives.”

Best wishes from our Top 20 team: Kevin Brennan, Willow Sweeney and Tom Cody.

Paul Bernabei, Director

Top 20 Training