Emotions in a Bottle

Emotions in a bottle

How are you feeling right now? If you answered, “fine”, what does that really mean? How often do you think about how you really feel and put a label to that feeling? 

People often respond automatically to the question, “how are you”, without spending much time actually considering their true feeling in the moment. We so often rely on our habits and routines when it comes to our emotions that we don’t spend time being with ourselves in the present moment in order to reflect on our true feeling. Sometimes we don’t even have an accurate word to describe what we are feeling. 

Studies have shown that when we have difficulty labeling our emotions, we also have difficulty regulating that emotion. However, the better we get at naming our emotion the better we are able to reduce the negative impact that emotion might have over us. 

  • “Studies show that naming your emotions immediately releases their grip over you and reduces physiological distress 
  • Emotional labeling provides emotional clarity, giving you a deeper understanding of what happened, how it affects you and helps you see the possibilities for what to do next 
  • Simply saying, “I feel ____”, helps bring your reaction under control and move on more quickly versus spiraling
  • Acknowledging your feelings – rather than dismissing them – is crucial to lowering emotional reactivity and improving your overall mental well-being.” (Melody Wilding- Emotional Labeling How to Control Stress and Feel Less Anxious By Naming Emotions)

A great resource for this is the Emotion Wheel (link below). This tool helps you find the words that fit best with the emotions you’re feeling on a regular basis. 

Try This

The Emotions in a Bottle exercise is another great way to identify what you are feeling in order to help you respond. 

  1. On your paper, draw some bottles or jars (or circles) that will hold each emotion. 
  2. Label your container with an emotion
  3. Imagine what that emotion looks like - what color is it? What shape does it have? Does it have hard or soft edges?
  4. Fill your jar with that emotion
  5. Some of your jars might be fuller than others, some emotions might “spill” out of the container, some might be empty. 
  6. If you need more of a certain emotion right now, fill a jar with it and imagine you can open that jar and receive what you need.

Self reflection:

  1. How did the process feel?
  2. Spend some time writing about how you might use this exercise to manage your emotions. For example, you have a strong emotion that you need to put in the jar and look at it later when you have more time and support. Or, you might have an overflowing jar of positive emotion that you can share with everyone around you.

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