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Labeling Thoughts and Feelings

Using Neuroscience & Mindfulness

written by Ray Williams February 26, 2020
Labeling Thoughts and Feelings

Putting your feelings into words and using mindful meditation together is a powerful way to regulate your emotions in a positive way.

Why is putting our feelings into words beneficial?  A brain imaging study by UCLA psychologists, which appears in the journal Psychological Science, may give us the answer.  Verbalizing our negative feelings makes excessive or persistent sadness, anger and pain less intense. In another study, these same researchers provide neural evidence for why “mindfulness” – defined as the ability to live in the present moment, without distraction – provides positive benefits as well.

In the experiments, when the participants saw a photograph of an angry or fearful face, they experienced “increased activity in a region of the brain called the amygdala, which serves as an alarm to activate a cascade of biological systems to protect the body in times of danger (ie., the fight or flight response).” The researchers saw a robust amygdala response even when they showed such emotional photographs to the subjects subliminally.

According to Matthew D. Lieberman, UCLA associate professor of psychology, seeing an angry face and simply calling it an angry face changes our brain response.

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