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July 4, 2018

The 3rd Best Phrase You Can Say

“I feel (insert adjective here).”
(someone wishing to name, and tame, their emotions)


This week we’re looking at the best phrases we humans can say to ourselves, and to one another. Yesterday’s was “Tell me more.”


Today’s is more a formula than a phrase: “I feel (insert adjective here).”


There’s a lot of data out there suggesting over 90% of our decisions are directed by our emotions at the moment, not our rational thoughts. And most of the time, we’re not clearly aware of the emotions driving those decisions at the time.


People in recovery have learned this. AA folks have a saying: If you can name it, you can tame it. Emotions are amazing servants, but terrible masters, so learning to tame your emotions and get them to serve you is a worthy lifelong task.


“I feel ____________” helps you do just that. Note that there is only one blank to fill in. That blank can only accept one word, and one word only. That’s how you know what you’re naming is actually a feeling.


I feel neglected.
I feel respected.
I feel happy.
I feel distraught.


One word, and one word only. Anything more and you’re describing something other than a feeling. “I feel like killing that guy” is not the expression of an emotion. That is stating a reaction to the emotion. “I feel enraged” is actually what’s going on.


Try it today. Take a moment here and there to simply identify what you’re feeling. Angry? Lonely? Scared? Excited? Hopeful? Conflicted?


Notice we’re not saying I am angry, or I am lonely. These are statements of identity, and they are simply not true. We do not embody our emotions, we feel them. And therefore we can tame them.


Peace begins with pause,