I’m thrilled to be posting today about a simple switch up that can transform how you think about and experience your emotions. And it involves getting rid of a word you probably use every single day. No joke. I would almost put money down on how frequently you use this not-so-helpful word. (I say “almost put money down,” because let’s be real. This is the internet, and I can’t be trading money right and left, but you catch my drift.) I bet you use this word A LOT, and I’m here to challenge that.
It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of being intentional about the words we use, especially when describing emotions. (If you aren’t quite in the know about this, read this post; it’s important.) Capturing the subtly in our emotions allows us fully feel our emotions and better understand and emotional experience. It also has the secondary benefit that we can then share this experience with the people around us, allowing them to more fully understand what we’re feeling.
With that in mind, I challenge you, here, now, and today, to stop using the word “UPSET.” Yep, you read that right, I’m not a big fan of this five letter word. It’s vague, it tells us little to nothing about what you’re actually feeling, and it doesn’t give anyone an opportunity to better understand your experience.
Let’s look at a few examples.
A coworker took credit for something you did, and you’re upset. Your sister said she would help you, and she forgot; you’re upset. You got some news from the doctor today, and you’re upset.
Upset doesn’t tell us much. Did you feel betrayed, hurt, disappointed, or shocked by your coworker? Did you feel forgotten, insignificant, or lonely when you sister didn’t call. Are you frightened, overwhelmed, distrustful, or alone after you spoke with the doctor? It’s important that we name our emotions, with as much detail and intention as possible.
The word “upset” has become a catch all for feeling “bad.” This leaves us with little to no understanding of how we’re truly feeling, and it doesn’t give the people in our lives any clue about what we’re feeling either. And that knowledge, that awareness of what we’re experiencing is critical for mental and emotional health.
So today, I’ve got a challenge for you. Stop using the word “upset.” Catch yourself when you notice yourself using the word, then stop and challenge yourself to come up with a different word or words instead. (If you need a cheat sheet of emotion words, click here for a printable list!) Be descriptive, be detailed, and be intentional about your word choice!
Are you in? Are you on board? Are you ready to say out with vague and in with the specific? If so, take the pledge.
I PLEDGE TO STOP USING THE WORD UPSET. I pledge to be mindful of my experience and use specific and nuanced words to capture my emotions. I pledge to be intentional when describing how I’m feeling.
Let’s change how we experience our emotions, one word at a time.