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Good Morning Families, today is Friday May 29th 2020 and it is now time for a moment of SEL.
Today we are focusing on a super important part of CBT and SEL and individual health and wellness and community health and wellness and definitely school health and wellness and it is called emotional granularity.
Granulation or granularity means little differences between things. It’s like a level of detail. Like little granules of sand. A whole bunch makes a beach, but each one is still separate. You could think of letters of the alphabet like little granules. Letters can make up words, and even though some words may sound exactly the same they can have differences in meaning, if they have different letters. Think of the three words there, they’re, and their. There is granularity between those words.
Emotional granularity is the ability to put feelings into words with a high degree of specificity and precision. Having few words to describe your negative emotions has been associated with more reactivity and poor mental health. And if you’d like to hear more about this visit this link, “NPR, Naming it to Tame it”.
It’s very important that you are able to understand varying degrees of intensity within your own emotion information because that will help you recognize and understand and eventually manage the range of your experience. It can also give you a measure and a goal for choosing an emotion experience. Exciting! Or maybe, energizing! Or maybe inspiring!
Being able to recognize and build skills of using emotion granularity can be very, very helpful in your life.
For example, I hear students say all the time that they are bored. I get it, I remember that feeling, that was a privilege of my youth, that I didn’t even understand back then. I haven’t personally experienced boredom since the day I became responsible for paying my bills. That’s not to say I don’t experience apathy, or sadness, or being disheartened, of tired, fatigue, or even feeling down, but bored? Not when the rent is due!
What many kids don’t know is that the experience we might call bored and the experience we might call calm may actually contain the same amount of energy. In fact, the only thing that may actually separate an experience of boredom from an experience of calm is a very small amount of pleasantness.
What does that mean?
That means that with practice a person may learn how to shift that very small amount of unpleasantness to pleasantness and gently move from experiencing boredom to experiencing calm. Now imagine if when a young person says, they are bored, they could follow that with, “I think I’ll shift to calm.” I know what you’re thinking, that’s like Dungeon’s and Dragons for SEL.
Right, forget that, I’m bored right now and I’m not about to shift into anything other than video games son!
Well a father can dream. But a school counselor can teach, and that’s what we are going to do. You can learn some strategies for managing your emotion information experiences and expressions. In fact, that’s one of the things that CBT teaches people to do. Recognize and manage thoughts and unpleasant emotion information.
Try starting out by thinking about feelings this way. Not all “happy” is the same. Some happy may involve laughing, as in high energy laughing from being tickled or suppressed laughing from hearing an inappropriate joke in class, those may be different happiness. Some happy may involve a lower energy of smiling from a feeling of accomplishment, and other happy may involve relief. The more different types of happy you can identify or name, the more different types of happy you’ll be able to draw upon when you want to feel those feelings. Or you want to express those feelings in a particular context.
For today, as you recognize any feelings or emotion information, see if you can give it a name. If it’s the exact same feeling you’ve had before then maybe call it what you do, but, if you notice it slightly different or coming from a different situation, try to give it a different name. That is, if you are tired and in need of sleep, maybe say you are feeling sleepy. If you can’t think of a name that already exists, make it up. It’s okay, as long as it makes sense to you. So if you find yourself over-tired, over-sugared, over-stimulated, and laughing at everything no matter if it is funny or not maybe call that “sleepover tired”. That’s very different then just being sleepy. And very different for the people around you, just FYI.
Emotional granularity is important beyond just giving you fancy words for fancy feelings. Just the act of labeling your feelings and emotions can be a form of managing those feelings. The more different words you can find to describe your different emotion information and feelings the more you’ll be able to you have a choice in your experience.
In other words, name it to tame it.
That’s how it works. Practice this weekend and we’ll connect in whatever way we can on Monday. Until Monday, may your thoughts and feelings be with you.