We are rarely experiencing just one emotion. Most of the cases several emotions are present.
When confronted with intense emotions, recognizing them and simply labelling them, can bring them to balance.
Making use of brain imaging, researchers brought some insights into the neural basis of affect labelling. While in fMRI scan, people were shown photos of faces expressing strong emotion. Their brain signals show greater activity in the amygdala, which is involved in generating emotions, particularly fear. Though, when they were asked to label the emotion, they showed greater activity in a region of the right frontal lobe, involved in discrimination. It seems that when people recognize and label an emotion they transform the emotion into something to be observed instead of something that we are one with, which reduces emotional intensity.
Next time you are caught in intense emotions:
– take a deep breath
– recognize what are the emotions you are experiencing
– simply label them one by one