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Emotional Granularity: How to Understand Emotions Better

Emotional Granularity: How to Understand Emotions Better


Emotional granularity, also known as an emotional distinction, refers to the ability to identify our exact emotions with terms other than the typical ones, such as “happy,” “sad,” “angry,” or “excited.” We learn to understand emotions as we become adults and face different life situations.  

We become more aware of our emotions as we mature. And we become adept at identifying various emotions, such as feeling cold, hungry, angry, sad, ashamed, joyful, etc. A person’s capacity to distinguish between the specificity of their feelings is known as emotional granularity. 

In this article, we’ll examine emotional granularity and how you can better understand your emotions to live a more fulfilling life. 


What Is Emotional Granularity?

The capacity to pinpoint exact details about our emotional experiences is known as emotional granularity. This makes it easier to comprehend and helps us cope with our emotions. While some people rely on more broad emotional strokes, others can engage in this process naturally. 

Many of us characterize our emotional states with cryptic phrases like stress. This can also sound like “that makes me sad” or “I’m just so mad.” These are helpful places to start. However, the more detailed we can be, the more capable we will be to respond to our emotions rather than just react.

When we can express our anger, we are likely to discover that numerous things or circumstances make us feel that anger. It can often be used as a mask for pain, humiliation, or shame. Just picture the sensation of having a friend or a partner who genuinely understands your situation and perspective. It’s comforting to feel secure and have a sense of belonging, right? By trying to understand ourselves better, we may offer that to ourselves on some level. 


Examples of Emotional Granularity

You have low emotional granularity if you identify and discuss your feelings with certain, limited phrases. For instance, you may choose to use terms like “excited,” “happy,” or “calm” to express your good feelings and “angry,” “sad,” or “afraid” to describe your negative ones.

People with severe depressive illness and social anxiety disorder have reduced emotional granularity, making it harder for them to distinguish between different negative emotions.

On the other side, those with high emotional granularity deal better with emotions in general. They frequently have fewer episodes of anxiety and despair, respond less strongly to rejection and setbacks, and are generally less likely to engage in self-destructive coping mechanisms like binge drinking, drugs, or violence.

Emotional granularity approaches have the potential to help even with phobias. Those people who have arachnophobia and have been trained to articulate their thoughts about spiders felt less anxious than those who are used to either thinking positively about the spider or avoiding it altogether. People with higher emotional granularity felt even more at ease going up to the spiders in person.


Why Emotional Intelligence Matters 

The skills and talents that enable you to recognize, comprehend, and regulate your own emotions and recognize and sympathize with those of others are referred to as emotional intelligence (EQ). Empathy may assist each of us in creating and sustaining deeper and better connections, whether in person or online, at work or at home. 

Being emotionally intelligent makes it possible for you to communicate clearly, sympathize with others, and be self-conscious and socially aware. How we react to each other and ourselves influences our work and home situations. Living in this world involves connecting with various individuals and embracing change and unexpected experiences daily. Emotional intelligence is the secret to how you react to what life throws at you. It’s also essential to have compassion and comprehend the underlying motivations of other people’s behavior.

When faced with challenging circumstances like conflict, change, and hurdles, EQ becomes even more crucial. Remembering to be nice during these moments is essential, and being aware of our feelings can support us. 


Benefits of High Emotional Granularity

Understanding the intricate details of emotions enables us to react perceptively, explain our experiences to others clearly and concisely, and thoroughly digest our feelings. Physical, mental, and emotional well-being are all intricately linked. We are focusing on all if we are focused on only one. Take an interest in the world of your emotions. Make inquiries about oneself and come up with responses. The beauty of reflection is that it gives us the freedom to reject things as they are.


Comprehending Complex Emotions

Every day, we encounter annoying circumstances, and things rarely go as planned. High emotional granularity reduces our likelihood of feeling overwhelmed in difficult or stressful circumstances because it allows us to respond to our emotions more precisely and even reinterpret them to suit our needs at that particular time.


Connecting Better with Others

We become more acquainted with a range of emotions when we strive to increase our capacity to distinguish between them with specificity. This aids in accurately identifying our own emotions and also the emotions and motives of others. When we understand people around us, we can better empathize with them, communicate more effectively, and build stronger bonds with them.


Improving your Behavior

When you understand your feelings more deeply, your brain can more easily perceive how you perceive a certain situation. You can pay serious attention to your instincts rather than leaving them aside. As a result, you can determine your options and the best course of action with greater accuracy. These experiences eventually shape your behavior and how you react to difficult circumstances in the future.


Practicing Emotional Granularity

Expand the vocabulary of emotions you know. This can be accomplished by storing a feelings wheel on your phone or printing out a copy. Use it to help identify your feelings more precisely the next time you are experiencing negative emotions. 

Describe your “bad” feelings in further detail: Do you feel scared, busy, stressed out, or bored? And then go into even more detail: Are you feeling indifferent or apathetic when you’re bored? Are you feeling abandoned or alone if you are lonely? 

You’ll have more accurate tools to deal with life’s numerous obstacles when you exercise emotional granularity. The benefits of higher emotional granularity are not something you will take for granted because they can have a significant effect on your health and well-being. 


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