Name it to Tame It

Naming an emotion can turn and overwhelming 'primitive brain' feeling into a logical 'neo-brain' fact

I’m angry.   I’m nervous.  I’m sad.  If you’ve ever admitted  to yourself or another that you were overcome by one of these troubling emotions, and then felt some relief from the emotion,  you were practicing mindfulness!  A study published in the Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine reports thats individuals who possess “mindfulness traits” can tame their emotions by calling upon the powers of the prefrontal lobe region of the brain.  The study shows that labeling an emotion calms the amygdala, the part of the brain that scans for danger, and activates the prefrontal lobe area, the part of the brain that helps us regulate our emotions.

Of course I felt silly talking to myself in my Prius, but I must say that when I employed the “name it to tame it” technique something inside me shifted and the sadness somehow softened.

I first heard the expression “name it to tame it” after participating in a training with Dan Siegal.  I decided to test the theory myself on the day I brought my son to college two years ago.  On the three-hour drive home, I declared out loud, to myself, “I’m sad.  Yes, indeed, this is sadness I feel, with a pinch of relief, and happiness for my son’s success.”  Of course I felt silly talking to myself in my Prius, but I must say that something inside me shifted and the sadness was softened.

I’ve since used the “name it to tame it” technique in session with my clients.  Most report some shift in the intensity of the emotion.  Try it yourself.  Let us know if this scientifically proven mindfulness technique works for you.

We wish you twenty minutes of mindfulness every day!

Need some coaching with the “name it to tame it” technique?  Contact us!

Click hear to learn mindfulness basics

Just about to launch a kid?  Read this touching story in Psychotherapy Networker by Dr. Brad Sachs


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