Name it to tame it – calm down the firing

By Dave Henning / December 6, 2020

“Even taking a moment to name what we’re experiencing has been shown to integrate the right and left hemispheres in our brains and to calm down the firing in our limbic system.  Dr. Daniel Siegel calls this phenomenon ‘name it to tame it.’ “- Aundi Kolber

“I spread out my hands to you; I thirst for you like a parched land.  Answer me quickly, LORD; my spirit fails.  Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit.  Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you.”- Psalm 143:6-8 (NIV)

As Aundi Kolber moves  on in Chapter 8 of Try Softer, she talks about the difference between emotions and feelings.  First, though, Aundi explains that a great part of the way we name and even experience emotions depends on culture and context.  Hence, even though all cultures express emotions, nuances of expression vary.

Therefore, in one sense, emotional response represents one way our bodies express the stories they hold.  As a result, at the clinical level, a clear distinction exists between our emotions and our feelings:

  • Emotions = the sensations and nervous system states we experience in our bodies
  • Feelings = the names we give those expressions (emphasis Aundi’s)

However, emotions often feel as if they’re happening to us when we try to white-knuckle our way through life.  Consequently, we fail to recognize that our body first evokes those emotions.  In truth, before something happens in our conscious minds (including our emotions), we know it first in our body.  Thus, in order for us to try softer, we must understand this.  Healthy emotional awareness always includes the body.

Finally, part of living involves the knowledge that we sometimes lack the capacity to work through everything that comes up.  But, this differs from living life as if our emotions don’t exist or matter.

Today’s question: Does ‘name it or tame it’ calm down the firing of your emotions?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Whole brain integration – the way back”

About the author

Dave Henning

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