Aug 19

“Permission to Feel”: Marc Brackett’s RULER Approach

New to paperback is last year’s Permission to Feel: Unlocking the Power of Emotions to Help Our Kids, Ourselves, and Our Society Thrive by Marc Brackett, PhD, founder and director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.

On his website, Brackett notes that emotions influence the following:

  • Attention, memory, and learning
  • Decision making
  • Creativity
  • Mental and physical wellbeing
  • Ability to form and maintain positive relationships
  • Academic and workplace performance

The architect of the RULER approach to social and emotional learning in schools across the country,  Brackett believes emotional intelligence is as important as academic intelligence. And, “Think about it: how many of us had a comprehensive emotion education?” asks Bracket (Maria Shriver website).

RULER stands for the five skills of emotional intelligence: Recognizing, Understanding, Labeling, Expressing, and Regulating emotions. And it’s not just for kids; it’s for all of us.

Tara Well, PhD explains RULER in a Psychology Today post. Excerpts are featured below:

  • Recognizing emotions in oneself and others. This is not just in the things we think, feel, and say, but our facial expressions, body language, vocal tones, and other nonverbal signals…
  • Understanding the causes and consequences of emotionhelps us make better predictions about our own thoughts and more informed choices about our behaviors.
  • Labeling emotions with precise wordsPeople with a more developed feelings vocabulary can differentiate among related emotions such as pleased, happy, elated, and ecstatic. Labeling emotions accurately increases self-awareness, helps us to communicate emotion more effectively, and reduce misunderstandings in social interactions.
  • Expressing emotions, taking context and culture into consideration. By expressing our feelings in accordance with cultural norms and social contexts, we can inform and invite empathy from listeners…
  • Regulating emotions effectively to achieve goals and well-being…(I)nvolves monitoring, tempering, and modifying emotional reactions in helpful ways, in order to reach personal and professional goals…

Selected Quotes from Permission to Feel:

My message for everyone is the same: that if we can learn to identify, express, and harness our feelings, even the most challenging ones, we can use those emotions to help us create positive, satisfying lives.

Most of us are unaware of how important vocabulary is to emotion skills. As we’ve seen, using many different words implies valuable distinctions—that we’re not always simply angry but are sometimes annoyed, irritated, frustrated, disgusted, aggravated, and so on. If we can’t discern the difference, it suggests that we can’t understand it either. It’s the difference between a rich emotional life and an impoverished one. Your child will inherit the one you provide.

In one study, sixth graders who went five days without glancing at a smartphone or other digital screen were better at reading emotions than their peers from the same school who continued to spend hours each day looking at their phones, tablets, computers, and so on.

Emotionally intelligent individuals had an intuitive understanding of one of the central conclusions of happiness research: Well-being depends less on objective events than on how those events are perceived, dealt with, and shared with others.

…(T)he necessary skills: The first step is to recognize what we’re feeling. The second step is to understand what we’ve discovered—what we’re feeling and why. The next step is to properly label our emotions, meaning not just to call ourselves “happy” or “sad” but to dig deeper and identify the nuances and intricacies of what we feel. The fourth step is to express our feelings, to ourselves first and then, when right, to others. The final step is to regulate—as we’ve said, not to suppress or ignore our emotions but to use them wisely to achieve desired goals.