When something doesn’t go your way, how do you feel? Sad? Upset? Just generally bad? Well new research suggests that fine-tuning your feelings gives you a better emotional understanding of your situation therefore preventing you from acting out in a negative ways.
You ability to carefully perceive and decipher an emotional experience is a key component of psychological interventions. There is an increasing value put on translating feelings into words at a high level of complexity. For example, identifying that a rainy day makes you feel groggy and disoriented as opposed to just “sad” challenges the individual to better understand their situation and its effects. The transition in articulation suggests a degree of emotional granularity (having different degrees and levels).
Recent research challenges the notion that all negative experiences are harmful. New claims argue that intense negative emotions help to differentiate and access information in your brain that is in charge of regulating emotions effectively. Therefore, an overwhelmingly negative experience can actually strengthen your understanding of your own values and goals in a way that promotes progress in valued striving and greater well-being.
Emotional granularity not only deepens our brains understanding of our emotions but also helps us to cope with negative emotions in a way that is less destructive and extreme. People who experience their emotions with granularity are less likely to resort to self-harming practices such as binge drinking, aggression, and self-injurious behavior.
People who achieve this state of emotional clarity experience a reduction in psychological problems and an increase in various strands of well-being. In addition, overall they have less doctor and hospital visits as well as overall less medication use.
Emotional granularity is not just a trait you are born with, it can be achieved. Practicing diverse concepts of emotion in daily life will train your brain to learn and apply them automatically. The more emotional concepts you achieve the stronger your defense will be.
Your newly found interpretation of your own emotions will give your brain more tools for handling the thousands of challenges that life throws at you!