Marc Brackett is on the show this week. I heard him on Brené Brown’s podcast, then devoured his work, and knew I needed to have him on the show. He is the founding director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and a professor in the Child Study Center at Yale University. His research focuses on the role of emotions and emotional intelligence in learning, decision making, creativity, relationships, health, and both academic and workplace performance. You are going to love this conversation and learn so much.
In this episode you’ll hear:
- Why it’s essential to focus on feelings. (7:02)
- The role emotions play in learning, decision making, and workplace performance. (9:46)
- What we should be teaching children about emotional intelligence. (15:29)
- The difference between emotional regulation and emotional intelligence. (23:05)
- The Mood Meter App: what it is and how it can be used. (28:32)
Resources mentioned in this episode:
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Marc Brackett, Ph.D., is the founding director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and a professor in the Child Study Center at Yale University. His research focuses on the role of emotions and emotional intelligence in learning, decision making, creativity, relationships, health, and both academic and workplace performance. Marc is the lead developer of RULER, a Pre-K to high school evidence-based, whole-school approach to social and emotional learning that has been adopted by over 2,000 schools across the United States and in other countries. He has published 125 scholarly articles, received numerous awards, and is on the board of directors for the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). Marc consults regularly with corporations like Facebook, Microsoft, and Google on integrating emotional intelligence principles into employee training and product design and is co-founder of Oji Life Lab, a digital emotional intelligence learning system for businesses. His research has been featured in popular media outlets such as the New York Times, Good Morning America, and The Today Show. Marc is the author of Permission to Feel: Unlocking the Power of Emotions to Help our Kids, Ourselves, and our Society Thrive.
There's no such thing as a good or a bad feeling or emotion. All emotions are experiences they’re natural experiences that we have. And they're not to be judged as good or bad. They're just to be experienced.
You're listening to Make Some Noise Podcast episode number 398 with guest Marc Brackett.
Welcome to Make Some Noise Podcast. Your guide for strategies, tools and insight to empower yourself. I'm your host, Andrea Owen, global speaker, entrepreneur life coach since 2007, an author of three books that have been translated into 18 languages and are available in 22 countries. Each week, I'll bring you a guest or a lesson that will help you maximize unshakable confidence, master resilience and make some noise in your life. You ready? Let's go.
Hey, everyone, welcome to another episode of the podcast. I am so glad that you are here. And if you are on this side of the planet, I hope you're having a fantastic summer. Marc Brackett is here on the show. I heard him on Brené’s podcast and instantly went and devoured his work and knew that I had to invite him on the show. I'm so happy that he said yes, you're gonna love this conversation and learn so much.
I wanted to remind you that coming up on August 5 is a free webinar on self-confidence, which is also a preview of my new book that's coming out August 31. So August 5 is the webinar and it's all about taking up space. It is about shining bright and about asking for everything that you want. I have this methodology that I came up with, I wanted you to have something easy to walk away with to implement in your regular everyday life. To learn how to have more self-confidence. I feel like we can all use a little bit more of that. The only requirement is that you preorder my book. It doesn't matter if you get it on audiobook, ebook, regular book to hold in your hands. Just preorder it and you can sign up for the webinar for free. And also, there's a free workbook that goes along with the book. I asked over 250 questions in the book. And I was like, I need people to have a workbook and I don't want them to have to purchase it. So we made a beautiful one that coincides with the book. And it's yours free if you preorder the book. So head on over to AndreaOwen.com/noise and you can see everything there. You can figure out where you're going to grab the book. You can get it anywhere books are sold, it doesn't matter. You don't have to get it on Amazon or anything like that. But yeah, that's your ticket to come to the webinar and interact with me for free. I cannot wait to see you. I'm really excited to do this. It's been so long since I've done anything live with y'all. And yes, there will be a recording if you can't make it. AndreaOwen.com/noise.
So over the weekend, I was having a wonderful dinner with my husband, just the two of us. We were celebrating our 13-year wedding anniversary at the Cheesecake Factory. I love the Cheesecake Factory. I do. I do. Anyway, we were we were talking about being married for 13 years and some of the things that we love about each other that we love, reasons that we love being married to one another, And it just became this deeper conversation talking about the work that we've done, together and individually. And my husband sort of half joked that he's grateful that I kind of dragged him kicking and screaming into quote, unquote, the work. And you know, you've been around these parts long enough where you probably understand what I'm talking about when I'm talking about the work. It's it's not one specific thing. It's just our own stuff. It is taking responsibility and accountability for our behaviors and learning how to be our best self. That's really it in a nutshell. And I really think the work that I started doing in 2014 around shame work, and you may have heard me say this before, if someone would have told me 10-15 years ago that that's the work I would not only be doing in my personal life, but facilitating for others. I would have been like y'all have got to be kidding me. Shame work. No, thank you. But it's been instrumental. It's been truly instrumental. I do take women privately through the process. I'm certified and Brené Brown’s work and it's a methodology called The Daring Way that teaches you shame. Resilience teaches you really fantastic and healthy coping mechanisms. So if you're interested in doing that, there's no obligation to fill out an application and see if it's a good fit for you AndreaOwen.com/apply. And if that's not a great fit, it might be not where you're at quite yet. We do have other options. I have two lead coaches Liz and Sabrina are standing by to work with with with women at really many, many capacities, so I would love for you to check it out and just see if it's a great fit AndreaOwen.com/apply.
Oh and P.S, if you are somebody who is a coach or an aspiring author, aspiring podcaster. I also do consulting, as well as my lead coach Liz does that as well, where we can help you get through a, writing a book proposal process, getting your business off the ground, just just apply, just apply and we'll let you know if it's a good fit.
Alright, so Marc Brackett, let me tell you a little bit about him. For those of you that are new to him. Marc Brackett PhD is the founding director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, and a professor in the Child Study Center at Yale University. His research focuses on the role of emotions and emotional intelligence in learning, decision making at creativity, relationships, health, and both academic and workplace performance. His research has been featured in popular media outlets such as the New York Times, Good Morning America, and The Today Show. Marc is the author of Permission to Feel: Unlocking the Power of Emotions to Help Our Kids, Ourselves and Our Society Thrive. So without further ado, here is Marc.
Marc, thank you so much for being here.
Thank you for having me.
I am so excited to talk to you. Because for several reasons. First and foremost, this is a a topic very dear to my heart. I heard you one Brené Browns podcast, and I'm a certified Daring Way facilitator. So I've trained with her and her senior faculty. And I'm sure like most of the people you have researched, and maybe even talk to, I and a lot of my listeners, I grew up in a family where we didn't talk about emotions. So I always joke that I have a lot of making up to do. So I'm excited to jump into this, this conversation.
And I want to start by by asking you. I mean, it's no secret that we live in a culture and society where men and women are encouraged and taught to hide or ignore, you know, push aside their emotions. So can you can you start by sharing? Why? Why it's essential to focus on feelings as a society and just as a whole person?
Sure, that's a that's a big question that might take the whole time?
It is I know, it's a lot of question in one.
Well, you know, it really starts off with, you know, the title of my book, which is Permission to Feel. And then, you know, I decided to call it permission to feel because I realized, you know, now I'm 51, you know, that most people don't have the permission to be their true full-feeling selves. Many people don't feel like they can express their true feelings. And so when you think about that, and you know, that we're feelings creatures, it's like, so what happens to those feelings? They get suppressed, they get repressed, they get eaten, they get, you know, swept away under the rug, they get acted out, they get, you know, pour down your throat with alcohol. Yeah. And so, you know, the list goes on, about how we've never had an emotion education, you know, to support us in being comfortable talking about feelings. Even the simple question, let's maybe we can just even do this. You know, Andrea, tell me ask me how I'm feeling.
How are you feeling?
Which I know is a lie. Cuz I asked you before we started recording you said something else.
Right, but most people, what do we say? Fine. Okay, good. Whatever. I'm great. No, ask me again.
Mark. How are you feeling?
Gosh, Andrea, it's like this odd mixture of anxiety, frustration, despair, and overwhelm. You froze?
Yeah, I'm like, Well, yes. Yeah, a lot of things I could say. But yeah, you know, like, oh, okay, that’s a lot.
It's a lot. A lot of us, you know, especially during this pandemic feel that way? I can tell you that I feel that way. And, and so the question is, you know, when you ask me how I'm feeling a, do I feel safe and comfortable to share how I truly feel, b, when I share what I feel, are you going to listen? How are you going to respond to that? And you can see how, you know, this little question of, hey, how you feeling is actually much more complex. And because we haven't really had any training in the language of emotion, and the understanding of emotion in that management of emotion. I think we just kind of, we moved on to like, how's it going? Right, and then you say, fine, and move on.
Yeah, it is. It is one of those things. I personally, it really depends on the person. I'm fairly transparent about how I'm feeling, but I'm also very careful to then quickly tell them but I'm okay. But I'm really okay. So if I am feeling overwhelmed and frustrated and nervous, I automatically feel like okay, don't I don't want that person to feel like they have to take care of me. So I kind of sweep it under the rug, after I'm honest about my feelings would not make sense.
What role do emotions play in decision making and things like workplace performance?
So I like to think about emotions as data or information. They're there as a system to give us stuff to think about stuff to do, you know, so when you're, you know, having a strong feeling like a fear, it's saying, there's danger don't go there. When you're experiencing lots of joy, right? It's saying approach approach approach approach. And so the emotions are information, their data. And and very importantly, I think that we have a society going back to that first question about how you feeling that sees emotions as good or bad. And I want to dispel that notion. There's no such thing as a good or a bad feeling, or emotion. All emotions are experiences, their natural experiences that we have. And they're not to be judged as good or bad. They're just to be experienced. And so you think about decision-making. A lot of people think, well, I'm a rational creature, like, it was my conscious choice to say that or do that. But the truth is, your feelings are behind almost all of your judgments and decisions.
So for example, for the teachers, or the parents in the room who understand education. I did a study years ago, where we asked people to think about a good day or a bad day, pretty easy. And then we had them grade papers. And what we found was there was a one to two full grade difference in the way the educators evaluated the same exact essay. But when we asked them, do you believe that how you felt had any influence? 90% denied it? Yeah. So what does that tell us? It says how we feel, influences the way we see the world and the choices we make. But it happens outside of awareness.
And that attribution of our feeling diminishes when we understand why we're having our feelings.
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So my children now are 11 and 13. And I knew that you know, I'm sure you hear this a lot, you know, people who are going to talk about their childhoods preface that by saying, ‘my parents were really great people, and they loved me’. And like I said, yeah, they love me, but didn't grow up in a family where they had they had the emotional intelligence, I always say, you know, I was emotionally illiterate. And I knew going into parenthood that I wanted that to be different. And I was also going through my own stuff of how, you know, I had to learn how and what I've always told my children and again, I'm not sure exactly where I heard this advice from but it was very early on is to tell them all of your feelings are normal. There's no right or wrong, you're never wrong for feeling whatever it is that you feel, but what you're responsible for is your behavior. Therefore, it's not okay for you to be nasty, or slam the door in my face, or like those types of things that you know, children might do. And that's been enormously helpful for myself to take my own advice. But it's very simple. And that's, that's one of the pieces of advice and parenting that I like to share that, and please, like, you're the expert on this, like, am I doing it right?
I think you're, I think you're making a good point. But I want to talk about the reversal or the reverse, I should say, which is that you are responsible for the way you act in the world, right? So you think about its, its kind of emotion, and then it's managing the feeling, and then it's behaving. However, I think for parents, who are our listeners, one of the things that we have in the center is that ‘behavior does not equal emotion’. So what does that mean? Well, you know, I'll give you my own example, when I was a kid, I was bullied in school. And I really was not doing well in school, I would come home, I hate you. I'm never going to school again. And what would happen is that my mother would get activated by that. Who do you think you are talking to me that way? Right. Go to your room, you know, wait till your father gets home. Classic 1970s parenting? And so here, I was feeling fear about going to school and getting bullied and hurt. And I'm being punished for it. Because my mom was so activated by my behavior, that she couldn't deactivate her own feelings in order to really find out how I was feeling to help me regulate. And so I just think for parents, to me, I don't know what that what it is. But we're trained to just observe behavior. Oh, you know, Marc is stomping his feet. He's angry. You know, Jill is crying, she sad. And the truth is, Jill might be crying because she's feeling shame. And Marc might be stomping his feet, because he's afraid. And so don't make the mistake of what I'm going to say, attributing the emotion to the child. Your goal, I hope is to be that compassionate, self-regulated parent who is a, was an emotion scientist who's curious and exploring to find out what's really going on? What's the story behind the behavior? What's the feeling behind the behavior, so that then you can help the job manage?
Or person I mean, if someone's in a roommate, a romantic relationship, or friendship, partner, friend, family? Yeah, I love that term. I know this is this is from from your book, and I would love for you to expand on that a little bit. And you say, I want everyone to become an emotion scientist. So can you can you say more? A little bit about that?
Sure. So the emotion scientist is open to emotion curious about emotion. You know, really wants to get specific about how they're feeling. They're not comfortable just saying fine, or stressed. They want to say, Well, is it? Am I anxious? Am I overwhelmed? Am I feeling too much pressure? Am I afraid? Because all of those are different experiences. It's funny. I just did a talk a little while ago for the government. I asked these all these leaders in the government. You know, what's the difference between anxiety, stress, fear, overwhelmed and pressure? And they're like Nothing nothing nothing nothing? Like, it wasn't a trick question, guys. And so why should a mom or dad know this about their you know why they need to have this specificity. Because you have to name it to tame it, because anxieties about uncertainty, fear is about danger. When you're overwhelmed, it just means you you feel like you have no escape. And those are different experiences that need different supports.
So my goal is to help parents become those curious, emotion scientists who are kind of trying to get at what's underneath the behavior to discover. Whereas the emotion judge, you know, my father was kind of an emotion judge get over it, like, get over it. Yeah, like, what do you have to what do you cry about? Or my father who was not very good at regulating his feelings? He'd often say things like, son, this is who I am, just get used to it. And I remember thinking to myself, yeah, now I think, yeah, I get used to it all, you know, I have 10 years of therapy, you know, get a doctorate in psychology and try to help other people learn these skills.
Well, that was actually one of my very curious questions is how you came to this work. Like were you a little boy and said, like, when I grow up, I want to, you know, create the center of and I'm forgetting the name of it now. The center at, the Center For Emotional Intelligence at Yale. How did you come to this work?
Well, you know, the real story is that I had a lot of trauma in my childhood that went untalked about until I was, you know, just becoming a teenager. And there was one adult. That was my Uncle Marvin, who was my mother's brother, who was that compassionate emotion scientist, and he was the only person who ever really asked me how I felt, but did it in a way that made me want to answer. And he didn't say, you know, toughen up, kid, get some grit kid, be resilient. He just said, my goodness, what are we going to do together? How am I going to support you? Let's talk through this. Let's, let's describe it, let's find strategies. And so, I argue, you know, that my uncle gave me that permission to feel and it really made a difference for me for middle school and high school, having my Uncle Marvin be my hero. And then I went to college, and I was struggling with who I was as a person, and what am I going to do with my life? And I'm giving you my like, entire life story here.
No, I, if you could see me right now I've got like my head and my heart. And I'm just so we're here listening. I appreciate it.
And so, then I'm in therapy. Because I'm like, what am I gonna do with my life Am I going to be I was teaching martial arts at the time. And I was like, interested in psychology, I was interested in law, I was interested in everything. And then I was I had this epiphany when I was in therapy. That everything I was like, kind of trying to figure out with my therapist, and then everything I was reading, like those self-help books that people on this podcast are interested in. They were all leading me to Uncle Marvin, and the stuff that he did with me because he was a teacher, and he was doing this stuff with kids. So I called my uncle and I'm like, can I pull you out of retirement and can we work on a curriculum together? And so that was my beginning, you know, of doing this work? And that was in my early 20s. And then I realized, well, I don't really have any credibility. Like, I'm an erotic Jewish college graduate, you know, like, who's gonna want to listen to me? I'm kidding. But, you know, I had no credibility in my uncle was retired already. So I'm like, I don't know, a 24-year-old neurotic karate teacher writes a curriculum on emotional intelligence with, you know, a 65-year-old retired trumpet player slash former middle school teacher. It doesn't seem like a recipe for publishing. And, anyhow, so I went, and I learned who are these experts and the theorist and I applied, got into one of the programs got my PhD, studying emotional intelligence. And then throughout that process, I worked with my uncle on our curriculum. And then, I got to Yale very fortunately, after I graduated, and then was able to work with that, now president of Yale, and started the center. And here we are, many years later, when we are a team of 2021, you know, a big team who are trying to make a difference in the world.
That's amazing. This work is so important. And I, it makes me curious about this younger generation. So again, I mentioned my children are younger, and especially my 11-year-old, and Gen Z seems to be very in touch with their feelings. And this is merely my opinion, and I'm very curious what you think about this, sometimes to the point of over identification, I feel like my daughter asks me, mom, do I have anxiety? And I'm like, I don't even know what that was until I was in my 20s, getting a diagnosis of doctor's office. What is your like, well, maybe you could tell us what do you feel like? is the difference between emotional regulation and emotional intelligence and kind of going overboard with it? Or is it, can you go overboard?
So the way I like to think about it, right, the emotion scientist uses their emotions wisely, to achieve well-being, to build and maintain healthy relationships, to have good physical and mental health, to make good decisions to you know, achieve goals and dreams in life. And so those are my criterium. And so when you think about the things that we do, that are not helpful, you know, yelling, screaming, eating too much junk food, denying, acting out, like alright, so does that help you have well-being does it help you build a maintain healthy relationships? Well, not really. Alright, then what works? Well, the first from my perspective, is you got to give yourself the permission to feel. The second is that you have to become the emotion scientist. The third is you got to learn the skills of recognizing, understanding, labeling, expressing regulating emotion. And then also what's the strategies well, you got to learn how to deactivate right because when you're really kind of, in triggered or you're feeling a strong intense emotion, you can't think clearly you can't problem solve. Oh, so that's where breathing exercises and mindfulness comes in. But that's not going to solve the world's problems, right, you've got to be able to problem solve. And you've got to be able to maybe shift your thinking, like, for example, during the pandemic, a lot of catastrophic thinking, a lot of self-criticism. Well, how do you go from self-criticism to self-compassion? How do you go from blaming to reframing or reappraising? And so what I feel strongly about is that we make these strategies for healthy emotion regulation available to parents, and to kids from very, very, you know, early on, and then it becomes developmental. Right. So, you know, think about it when you're in kindergarten, you know, Marc, you can do this. And I have a niece, who, I'll never forget this. She is she was seven at the time and she had a little bit of a speech, a little bit of a lisp. And she was so afraid she but she wanted to be in the school play in second grade. But Uncle Marc, I'm afraid, and then we get fun and make fun of me. And so shouldn't have strategies. Like, I didn't get anybody. Did you have an emotion coach growing up in your house?
No. Immediately no.
And so I'm like, Uncle Marc's gonna take over Uncle Marvin for me. And so I said, like, what, what we can what can we say to ourselves, when we have these feelings when you get those butterflies in your stomach? And when you start thinking, I can't do this, what can you say to yourself? And we work together for, you know, a while to list things that she could say to herself is that really were her ideas. Yeah, long story short, if she does a school play, She's so excited. She does a great job. And she jumps off the stage Uncle Marc, I use my strategies. And I said, well, which one did you use today? And she says, well, when I got nervous, I took my deep breath. And I said to myself, Esme, face your fears, and I think, oh, my gosh, think about that a seven-year-old having that level of sophistication. To manage her emotions. I don't even want to begin to tell you where my brain was at at seven years old and… So it's possible. But we the people who are raising and teaching kids have to learn at first.
Yeah, that made me a little emotional for a second. And it doesn't happen to me very often on this show. So I appreciate your your story. And and God bless your niece.
I want to I want to talk about before I let you go, I want to talk about your app. Sure. The Mood Meter app. And, and just so I'm clear, was this originally made for children? Or is it for everyone?
No, actually was ever the app was originally made for adults.
Okay, good, because I downloaded it. And I think it's amazing. And I want everyone to both get your book and this app, because just before you before you start talking about it, what I have found in my conversations with clients and and the women that listen to this show is that many times, and I'm sure that you've heard this before we grow up and kind of don't know what it is that we're feeling and can't point to it. Because we've spent so many years like you were saying offloading or numbing out or dismissing or feeling like our feelings were wrong. We don't know what they are. And so then it's be like, how do I feel my feelings if I don't even know what they are in the moment. So that's why one of the reasons I was so excited to see your app, so can you tell us about that.
So the Mood Meter Tool is built in a lot of science. And my colleague David Caruso, you know, worked on the first version of the meter. And then we applied it to our work in schools and with families. And another colleague of mine, Robin, and I had the opportunity to work with a tech company to build the app. And actually, we're going to be updating the app in the next four months, and it's gonna blow your mind with the features it's going to have. So just stay tuned.
My thinking about technology is that you want to use it when it can be helpful. And so it's hard to keep track of your feelings like, right, how do you do that? How do you keep track, you're gonna write a piece of paper, everything, like put on your mirror in your bed… It doesn't make sense. So why not build a tool that can help people a, build their vocabulary, and b, start unpacking the reasons for their feelings, and c, learn strategies to help them regulate their feelings, and d, learn, you know about their data, you know, in aggregate, so what I mean by that is, you know, after you use the tool for let's say, a couple of weeks, you can get your report and you think so where have I been living on this Mood Meter. And by the way, the mood meter is this tool that has four colors yellow, red, blue, and green. The yellow is high energy pleasant feelings like happy, excited, ecstatic and cheerful and hopeful. The red is high energy, unpleasant feelings, which are, you know, frustrated and overwhelmed, and anxious and angry, the blue is down disappointed hopeless despair, sadness. And the green is calm, content, peaceful, tranquil. And so there's these 100 words that are in these four colors. And so it's nice to know like, wow, over the last two weeks, you know, I've been 75% in the red in the blue. Yeah, like, well, how is that impacting my well-being? I’m repetitive here, right? My relationships, my decision making my performance? What do I need to do differently to support myself to experience a greater balance of pleasant unpleasant emotions. So that's why we have the tool and it's been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times, and people really love it.
Yeah. And it has a really good ratings on I'm looking at the Apple Store. I love this so much. I feel like I want to marry it. It's so exciting because okay, let me back up. I'm Andrea’s getting excited over here. So I got sober in 2011. I was a very high functioning, I identify as an alcoholic, I had a very high bottom, no one even knew I got out early. A couple years before that I was in recovery from pretty severe codependence and love addiction. So I know what it's like to run away from your feelings and your problems. So for me, I always tell people like it was never the wine, it was never the relationship, it was never the control, it was all about my feelings, or you know, for more specifically, trying to figure out how to run away from them. And I work with a decent amount of women who are also struggling with their relationship with alcohol, for instance. And I keep telling them, the quantity doesn't matter, the symptom doesn't really matter. What's underneath, all this that we're trying to uncover is where are you at with your emotions. And I love this, that they can keep track of it and really look in in pretty colors, and take inventory of where they're at. Because you can't help yourself. If you don't know how you're feeling.
There you go. You're you're hired.
On track. Thank you, Marc, I am so glad to talk to you. So again, everyone that the book is Permission to Feel: Unlocking the Power of Emotions to Help Our Kids, Ourselves and Our Society, that link will be in the show notes along with a link to the app. And before you go, is there anything that you missed that you wanted to circle back with and say, the website, you want to send people to anything at all?
Sure. I mean, my website has access to the apps, my book, you know, free articles, I even have a virtual book club that people can join.
I saw that. Is that ongoing?
It goes like, we do it every six weeks, a couple times a year. Okay, so we're in a week or two right now. But um, so just Marc with a C. M-A-R-C Brackett B-R-A-C-K-E-T-T.com and you can just learn all about our work.
And so I just want to end by saying, you know, when you understand the science of emotion, and how critical the skills of emotional intelligence are for our children's health and performance and success and happiness in life, it really becomes our moral obligation as the parents and teachers, you know, who are raising kids to be the best possible role models for them. And so I hope people will just take this work seriously and strive to be that emotion scientist, and so that children's dreams can come true.
Let's end on that. That was beautiful. Thank you so much for being here. And listeners, thank you so much for being here as well. You know how grateful I am for your time and remember, it's our life's journey to make ourselves better humans and our life's responsibility to make the world a better place by everyone.