Affect labeling or labeling emotions is the act of noticing and putting a name on an emotion. Naming or labeling emotions helps us to untangle or unstuck from them. Understanding emotions help in better self-evaluation and is important for self-improvement and growth.
When we understand ourselves, we can then respond to distressing situations better. It allows us to make better solutions rather only fleeting reactions. Matthew Lieberman refers to this as “affect labeling” and his MRI brain scan research shows that labeling of emotion appears to decrease activity in the brain’s emotional centers, including the amygdala. The dampening of the emotional brain allows its frontal lobe, (which includes reasoning and thinking center) to have greater control of solving the problem.
By naming emotions, we tend to create a safe distance between the raw emotion and our own self. It helps in connecting with experience more safely and find better possibilities to respond. Practicing emotional labeling allow us to choose how to respond to events and save us from damaging reactions and triggers.
Labeling emotions facilitates mindfulness and makes us more aware of other’s emotion as well. It also helps in strong relationship building by navigating our surroundings efficiently.