Did you know there is an emotion many of experience, and it is called “fago”?
Fago is a mixture of compassion, sadness, and love. It is how we feel toward someone who needs help, and it is made more complex by the feeling that we might lose them. Anthropologist, Catherine Lutz, wrote about the emotion in the 1980s when she lived on the Island of Ifaluk in the Caroline Islands of the Pacific. She said she recognized the emotion, but the English language didn’t have a name for it.
There are good reasons to study and name emotions, according to researchers, and several mental health professionals. Emotionally intelligent children perform better in school, according to the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. The group taught schoolchildren about emotions and also instructed them to use words to describe emotions for 20-30 minutes a week. The children’s social behavior and academic performance improved as a result, according to the group.
According to Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett, a researcher who studies emotions, those who know the emotion they are feeling may be able to decide how to get help for it. This can help them recover faster from an emotion they don’t like. For example, if a person realizes s/he is feeling anxious, that person may know a healthy and effective way to calm down could be to watch a funny video or talk to a friend.
Tiffany Watt Smith, a research fellow at the Centre for the History of the Emotions at Queen Mary University of London, recently wrote “The Book of Human Emotions”, giving us 154 words to describe very particular emotions, many of which we don’t know we have. As she wrote the book, she said she remembers not taking offers of help from people because she didn’t want to inconvenience them. This emotion is named “greng jai”.
Smith also talks about the emotion of “Pronoia”, which is described, but not named, in J.D. Salinger’s “Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters.” In the book, Seymour Glass calls himself the opposite of paranoid because he suspects people of plotting to make him happy. Sociologist Fred Goldner later labeled this emotion “pronoia”, a feeling that everyone is out to help you.
Naming our emotions and finding healthy ways to deal with them requires some study and self-reflection. These steps can also improve our lives and our relationships. Counseling is also a wonderful way to work on emotional intelligence. With the help of a mental health professional you can develop skills to increase your emotional intelligence. Counseling is not simply an act of psychotherapy, but counseling also gives you a great opportunity to learn and practice practical life skills.
If you’re interested in improving your emotional intelligence, consider contacting one of our Colorado Springs Counselors to assist you. We have a desire to empower you in all aspects of your life.
Author: Cathy Durst, MA, LPC