How to deal with emotions: Green Language

by talkbackty on Jun 8, 2011

I was introduced to these ideas years ago and it warrants far more discussion than I'm about to give it. So see here for more. How I understand and practice this concept is thusly: there are two ways we adapt ourselves.

Firstly, our thoughts change our language and behaviors. Imagine you read a book (or blog, wink wink) that has some piece of information you like. i.e. "Breathe." You read that breathing might help you. You start changing your language to include things like, "I should breathe now." And then finally you breathe consciously.

Secondly, you start doing an action or using some language and then your thoughts change to believe your actions and language. Your family has arranged for you to be married. You marry the person because you are told to. You have to live with the person. Love blossoms and grows later; in response to your action of marrying.

Married life to a Single Person

So Green Language is meant to be an action and behavior that will eventually change how you think about things. Let's take some examples.

"I made my wife happy today."

Look at that sentence. If you are really good break it down using sentence diagramming. If you don't know what that is you should be thankful. It basically reminds the world that they know nothing about how the English language should work.

But let's break it down a bit together. Who is important in this sentence? Is it the wife or the speaker? Well it says, "I made..." so it's about the speaker and what he did. Then it says "my wife..." also suggesting the speaker is the important one. This sentence isn't about the wife, it is about the speaker and what he did.

That sentence would be considered red language. It's possessive for one. Casting the wife as something that the speaker can make feel certain ways. In this case happy. The truth is that nobody can make anyone feel anything. People control their own emotions. We choose to be happy, or sad, or upset.

Green language is a way to reflect this.

Listen to your conversations, listen to others conversations. How often do they remove responsibility from themselves. How often do you hear, "the weather made me upset," "my boyfriend got me angry," etc.

When you start taking responsibility for your emotions that's also the same point when you realize that you can do something to change them. If your boyfriend makes you sad then you are also reliant on him to make you happy again. At least that is what your language is implying.  Not good.

When we take control of our language and emotions it sounds more like this: "I am happy because my boyfriend is sweet to me." "I think that my wife is a lovely individual." "I believe ice cream is tasty."

Maybe that sounds a little "me" centric to some, but that is the kind of attitude I think we should have about our emotions. Otherwise we fall into certain roles.

From Team Edserve

I'm a rescuer by nature. I want to make you happy, make you feel better, make you love me in return. If I can't do this I get pretty messed up. Well, better to say I used to get pretty messed up. Now that I'm conscious of what's going on I handle it slightly better...but only slightly.

Now on to some science!
Not quite that awesome.

When we start experiencing strong emotions our brains start to work differently. You've probably heard it described as the "flight or fight" response.

Here's a little more detail.

Different areas of our brain handle different things. The amygdala is responsible for most emotions. That's what starts firing up when a fight breaks out. You either get defensive or aggressive. Maybe you get a bitter taste in your mouth (adrenaline). And everything starts feeling like an attack on you, your family, your nation, whatever.

I mentioned three good ways to deal with this emotional response yesterday. But here's one I left out because it's so sciencey.

You need to shut down your amygdala and fire up your prefrontal cortex. That's your logical center. The easiest way to do this? Start naming things you see around you.   Doorknob. Lamp. Computer mouse. Superman comic. Books.

You'll start feeling more calm. Trust me. Our brains can't actually do more than one thing at a time. Multitasking is a myth. What brains actually do is switch back and forth incredibly fast. So if you focus on naming things (recognition of formerly known objects is handled by the prefrontal cortex) your brain will not be able to process information from the amygdala as well.

The more powerful my emotions are the more detailed I tried to be in naming things. Don't just start listing stuff though. Look at something and call up its name from memory. If you see a book spine say the name of the book, "The Name of the Wind." Then try and describe its cover from memory. Basically anything and everything works. Still angry. Go to a new room. Name everything you see there.

It sounds weird until you know the science.

I just gave you the science. Feel less weird.

To recap:
Green Language is a way of changing our words and actions to influence changing our thoughts.

It allows us to take responsibility for our emotions. Reminding us that we are both in control and capable of changing them.

It keeps us out of the roles people often fall into of rescuer, persecutor, and victim. All are equally as dangerous to be in because all expect things out of people that is unrealistic.

A sciency trick you can use is "naming." By naming things we see, we can shut down our amygdala (emotion center) and fire up our prefrontal cortex (logic center).

And that's Green Language in a nutshell. It's what I do. It works for me. I believe it can work for other people. Give it a shot and let me know in the comments if anything I say is actually making sense :)