Permission to Feel | Marc Brackett

Summary of: Permission to Feel: Unlocking the Power of Emotions to Help Our Kids, Ourselves, and Our Society Thrive
By: Marc Brackett


In ‘Permission to Feel,’ Marc Brackett explores the life-altering experience of understanding and embracing one’s own emotions. Through the use of the RULER curriculum, the author delves into the world of emotional intelligence, touching on topics such as the connection between emotions and cognition, harnessing the power of negative emotions, and developing emotional skills as ’emotion scientists.’ The book underscores the importance of applying emotional intelligence in various aspects of life, including relationships, schools, and workplaces, leading to a more thriving and emotionally healthy society.

Emotional Acceptance for Improved Well-Being

Professor Marc Brackett’s book delves into the damaging effects of hiding emotions as you grow older and the transformative power of emotional acceptance. Brackett experienced bullying and sexual abuse as a child, which left him emotionally numb; his parents couldn’t support him, so he bottled up his feelings. When a teacher showed him empathy and asked how he was feeling, Brackett began to open up. He learned to identify and accept his emotions, which led to academic success, improved behavior, and a better connection with his true self. Brackett has dedicated his life to helping others accept their emotions and improve their well-being.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotions aren’t a distraction from logical reasoning but a necessary part of it. In fact, emotions affect every aspect of how we think, shape how we make decisions, how well we can concentrate, and even what we think about. The idea that emotions and thoughts aren’t already connected is misguided. It’s only in the 1990s that psychologists Peter Salovey and John Mayer formulated the first theory of emotional intelligence. Since then, a rush of experiments by social scientists and psychologists have proved beyond doubt that emotions are a key part of our cognitive processes. The brain gathers information from our senses to process a response to stimuli with a feeling. That feeling informs how we act and perceive the world in “cognitive loops.” Our mood influences our decision-making. Therefore, there’s no such thing as choosing with our heads or our hearts; they’re already in cahoots, working together to help us process information and respond sensitively to the world.

Befriending Negative Emotions

Suppressing emotions leads to chronic stress and serious health problems. The key is to befriend negative emotions and use them to our advantage. Unresolved emotions can lead to chronic illnesses, including depression and anxiety. These emotions cause our brains to release hormones and neurochemicals that cause physiological reactions in our bodies. However, allowing them to exist can lead to useful tools. Fear allows us to narrow our focus and catch details, while anger reveals our boundaries and propels us into action. We should value negative emotions to work for us and not against us.

Discovering Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is essential in identifying and managing emotions effectively. While some may be born with natural abilities in emotional intelligence, it is a skill that anyone can develop. Becoming an emotion scientist involves learning about emotions and managing triggers.

Do you think that emotional intelligence is something we are born with? Think again. In this book, we learn that being emotionally intelligent is a skill that we can all develop. The author discusses how emotional intelligence is not linked to a person’s IQ, and even people with high IQs may struggle to understand their own emotions.

Emotional intelligence involves identifying and managing our emotions, recognizing their role in social relationships, and supporting others with their emotions. To develop emotional intelligence, we need to become emotion scientists and learn everything we can about emotions by being open-minded and experimental. It’s not about labeling emotions as good or bad, but instead, understanding where they come from.

The book highlights that gaining emotional intelligence doesn’t mean that we will never experience negative emotions or lash out at someone. Instead, it helps us recognize why it happens and teaches us how to manage triggers better. Even better, emotional intelligence can be taught to anyone with training.

The author has developed a syllabus consisting of five key skills, which anyone can learn. These skills, recognized under the acronym “RULER,” stand for Recognizing, Understanding, Labeling, Expressing, and Regulating. The first three allow us to practice identifying our emotions, and the last two help us develop the skills needed to deal with them.

This book is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand how emotional intelligence works. By mastering emotional intelligence, we can all become more effective in both our personal and professional lives. Are you ready to start your journey towards emotional intelligence? Let’s dive in and become emotion scientists together.

Recognizing and Understanding Emotions

The RULER curriculum emphasizes the importance of recognizing and understanding emotions. When faced with someone exhibiting negative behavior, we must use all our senses to gather information to identify the underlying emotions. However, this can be challenging since we could be projecting our own feelings onto the person. Therefore, the author uses James Russell’s mood meter to categorize emotions into four key types.
Identifying emotions is only half the battle. Understanding them requires asking questions like “why” and taking the time to investigate slowly. By recognizing and understanding emotions, we can build better relationships with others and ourselves.

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