Labelling Your Emotions for Better Control

By HealthSignz | Published: May 9th, 2016

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Emotional labelling or ‘affect labelling’ is all about describing a specific emotion/feeling in very definite terms. Recognizing and naming an emotion can have a powerful effect on the way it is processed by the brain. You can use this technique to help yourself and others, including children, enhance emotional regulation and lessen emotional reactivity.

Many children and adults struggle with their emotions partly because they cannot assign a clear label to what they feel. Labelling an emotion not only lowers the physiological stress response, but is also useful in the treatment of certain phobias. By processing our emotions, we can transform them into objects of close examination and minimize their intensity. However, this can be done only when we allow ourselves to experience these feelings instead of ignoring them.Using emotional labelling for better control to help ourselves

Think about it

Have a quick and quiet conversation with yourself. Ask yourself what emotion you are feeling right now.

Write about it

Writing is an effective way to become more objective about your emotions, especially in stressful situations. People who write about their intense emotional experiences are able to cope better.

Talk about it

It is not necessary to end a difficult conversation if you are experiencing an emotion – label it out load. Ensure that you do not use it as a weapon to hurt anyone.Using emotional labelling for better control to help others

Ask, do not tell

We can never know for sure what specific emotion someone else is feeling, which is why it is better to ask instead of responding based on guesswork. Avoid clichéd therapy language and focus on asking for the emotion before confirming it.

Talk privately

Speak to the person one on one, outside the circle of other people. The goal is not just about inviting the person to open up about what is troubling them, but also helping them use emotion labelling to restore inner peace.

The bottom line is to get the brain into the habit of analysing thoughts separately from the reactive emotion itself. Mindfulness that teaches us to label the thoughts that take our mind away from our breathing and then come back to it is are also helpful in developing the habit of emotional labelling.

List of groups of emotional labels to help with emotional labelling:

Anger: Annoyed, mad, bitter, cross, disgusted, frustrated, fuming, irritated, ticked-off, worked-up.
Sadness: Blue, discontent, discouraged, gloomy, guilty, heartbroken, disappointed, lonely, depressed, low, moping, left-out, embarrassed, lethargic, defeated, exhausted, hopeless, lazy, numb, passive, misunderstood, cheated, burdened.
Happiness: Thrilled, amused, bright, cheerful, sunny, terrific, grateful, thankful, energetic, joyful, fabulous, active, alert, capable, confident, encouraged, accepted, loved, validated, appreciated, respected, supported.
Aggressiveness: Angry, hostile, competitive, powerful, dominant, arrogant, cocky, strong, bold, courageous, overbearing.
Fearful: Afraid, alarmed, worried, anxious, cautious, frightened, terrified, insecure, stuck, reserved, trapped, scared.
Safe: Calm, comforted, content, relaxed, peaceful, composed, free, secure.

If you want to control your emotions better, acknowledge and put a label on them instead of trying not to feel them. This will help increase emotional literacy, improve mental health, resilience, and promote clear communication.

About the author


We are a team of professionals with a significant level of expertise spanning multiple disciplines for over four decades. Identifying health and wellness as the primary factors that drive liveliness in individuals, lead to the integration of our knowledge with our common values – the result is HealthSignz (HS). Driven by passion to contribute to the advancement of the happiness quotient and well being of communities as a whole, we are here to touch as many lives as possible by enriching them with HS.