CC360 Blog

Composing the Story of Our Life

Composing the Story of Our Life

Listen intently to the words your friend, partner, child or others select when willing to go beyond surface level conversation. In doing so, you’re likely to garner access to a treasure-trove of insights, oftentimes those of which even they are not aware. The way in which we describe ourselves (“I’m such an idiot”), others (“she couldn’t care less”), and challenges we face (“I’m hung”) carry significant, even if unrealized, weight. Situational assessments (“I wish I could find a role like I had back in 2010”) may be referencing the past, but they’re often a better indicator of our future. Likewise, default use of words such as “just” (“I’m just a manager,” or “I just run a few miles/week”) degrade our efforts and opportunities. Similarly, the use of “got to” vs. “get to” removes our available autonomy and extremes such as “never” or “always” are never accurate and always send us down the wrong path 😉.  

I’m consistently stunned by the clues a coaching client or friend provides, not via “what” they say, but rather the way in which they say it (both words and tone). Rarely, if ever, is the true issue identified in the descriptor chosen. Instead, it’s hiding in the shadows of what is being said. The words we choose truly determine the lives we live!

However, based on insights from brain researcher Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett in her book How Emotions Are Made, the opportunity available in our wording goes even deeper. She notes the greater our emotional granularity, the greater our emotional intelligence and the ensuing benefits to our health (and resultant outcomes). What is emotional granularity? It is the ability to accurately identify our emotion beyond the generic happy/sad/mad. Rather than settling on “happy” we may instead identify the feeling as being ecstatic or blissful or inspired. See the difference? Feel the difference? The more precise our wording, the less cognitive effort is required and the more accurately the body can respond with appropriate levels of cortisol, adrenaline, heart rate, blood pressure, focus and more.

How do we improve our emotional granularity? Engage in new experiences, reflect through journaling, learn new words, try on new perspectives like we try on new clothes and stop settling for generic word choices. Our futures are composed through the words we consistently embrace. Is today the day we begin composing a story worth reading? 

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