You Are Not What You Suffer From

Daily Stretch #9: Turn emotions into a noun

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you are not what you suffer from stretch for change #9

What we suffer from can be either a noun or an adjective. The difference between one and the other is not just grammatical. Your success will depend on which is for you.

Words create chemical reactions in our brains, according to neuroscience.

Being exposed to negative words immediately releases stress-producing hormones and neurotransmitters. This chemical reaction affects your brain functioning: your thoughts, logic and communication.

When you turn an emotion into an adjective, you are labeling yourself. You become that negative emotion, releasing stress-producing hormones.

You get stuck.

Today’s Stretch: Turn Emotions Into A Noun

“You are not your emotions. You have emotions. And you can master them.” — John Lennon

The words we use shape our self-image: they can either liberate or limit our potential.

When you see emotions as a noun, they might affect you, but they are not part of whom you are. Adjectives, on the other hand, are like labels. The more you them, the more that label will define you.

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I feel depression versus I’m depressive.

My current fears are holding me back versus I’m fearful.

My recent product launch was a failure, versus I’m a failure.

Feeling insecure about something doesn’t make you an insecure person. Being down one day doesn’t make you depressive. Being lost does not mean you are lost.

Your emotions are dynamic, not static. They come and go. You are not your emotions.

When you see emotions as a noun, you are in charge.

As research by neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Newberg has shown, the longer you concentrate on positive words, functions in the parietal lobe start to change, which changes your perception of yourself. A positive view of yourself will bias you toward seeing the good in others too.

Adjectives get you stuck. Today’s stretch: turn emotions into a noun.

Stretch, reflect & grow

“Labels are for filing. Labels are for clothing. Labels are not for people.” — Martina Navratilova

Practice this with your spouse, friend or colleague.

Your turn.

Think about recent events when you were feeling bad about something that happened to you. Share those moments with your partner, using an adjective to label you:

“I lost my last two tennis matches, I’m a loser.”

Every time you share something, the other person should reframe it by turning the adjective into a noun. The purpose is to spin your story in a positive way:

“You are not a loser, you just experienced two loses.”

Switch roles. Repeat the exercise. I recommend at least 2 -3 minutes per turn. Afterward, discuss the experience with your partner:

Compare both instances. What changed? Why?

How did you feel listening to a positive version of your story?

Do you normally use adjectives to label yourself? Why?

The purpose of this exercise is to realize the emotional switch when we remove adjectives and use nouns instead. Become aware. Realize when and how you normally use adjectives.

Emotions come and go. You are not what you suffer from.

Upgrade Your Game

Regain control over your emotions and thoughts. Join our “Stretch Your Mind, Stretch Your World” Workshop! Learn More Here.

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I help teams and organizations build fearless cultures. Creator of the Culture Design Canvas. Insights →

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