Which Emotions Do Women Recognize Better Than Men?**

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Conventional wisdom and a litany of past research suggest that women have higher emotional intelligence than men. But is this really the case?

New research published in the academic journal Emotionexamined this topic in the context of emotion recognition. First, the research team asked both men and women to evaluate a series of photos. Each photo contained an individual expressing one of five basic emotions (anger, disgust, fearhappiness, or sadness). Participants were asked to identify the emotion each photo conveyed.

What did they find? For one, they note that some emotions are better recognized than others. Here is a rank order of the accuracy with which people identified the five emotions tested:

  1. Happiness (Most accurate)
  2. Fear
  3. Anger
  4. Sadness
  5. Disgust (Least accurate)

As for gender differences, the researchers found more parity than they expected. There was, for instance, no clear accuracy advantage for women, as might have been hypothesized. They did, however, show some interesting nuances:

  • Women were significantly better at identifying disgust and sadness.
  • Men were significantly better at identifying happiness.

Two follow-up studies replicated these results using slightly different methodologies.

What is to be made of these results? While conventional wisdom might have led one to expect bigger gender differences in emotion recognition, this research suggests that it might be time to recalibrate preconceived notions. The authors write:

“Why do our findings diverge from what might be thought of as conventional wisdom, i.e., that there is an overall sex difference in emotion recognition? One possible explanation is that of publication bias in this field. This account is supported by a recent meta-analysis of sex differences in emotion recognition ability that reported evidence for an excess of significant findings in the literature (Thompson & Voyer, 2014). For the field to move towards a consensus state, this suggests a need for strongly powered confirmatory studies with pre-registered experimental protocols.”

Even if past literature has overstated gender differences, as the researchers suggest, the current research still finds significant differences between the groups. These, they hypothesize, might best be explained through the lens of evolutionary theory. Because women are the child-bearing gender, they may have a heightened sensitivity to potential contaminants in their environment and might, therefore, be more likely to identify signals of disgust. Conversely, men may show less disgust sensitivity as a way to emphasize their strength and virility.

Whatever the reason, for your next cocktail party, perhaps let the women be the judge of what’s unappetizing and let the men decide who had a good time.

3 Powerful Ways to Gain Control Over Your Emotions

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Have you ever said something out of anger that you later regretted? Do you let fear talk you out of taking the risks that could really benefit you? If so, you’re not alone.

Emotions are powerful. Your mood determines how you interact with people, how much money you spend, how you deal with challenges, and how you spend your time.

Gaining control over your emotions will help you become mentally stronger. Fortunately, anyone can become better at regulating their emotions. Just like any other skill, managing your emotions requires practice and dedication.

Experience Uncomfortable Emotions But Don’t Stay Stuck in Them

Managing your emotions isn’t the same as suppressing them. Ignoring your sadness or pretending you don’t feel pain won’t make those emotions go away.

In fact, unaddressed emotional wounds are likely to get worse over time. And there’s a good chance suppressing your feelings will cause you to turn to unhealthy coping skills—like food or alcohol.

Acknowledge your feelings while also recognizing that your emotions don’t have to control you. If you wake up on the wrong side of the bed, you can take control of your mood and turn your day around. If you are angry, you can choose to calm yourself down.

Here are three ways to regulate your emotions in a healthy way:

1. Label Your Emotions

Before you can change how you feel, label the emotion you’re experiencing right now. Are you nervous? Do you feel disappointed? Are you sad?

Keep in mind that anger sometimes masks emotions that feel vulnerable—like shame or embarrassment. So pay close attention to what’s really going on inside of you.

Put a name your emotions. Keep in mind you might feel a whole bunch of emotions at once—like anxious, frustrated, and impatient.

Labeling how you feel can take a lot of the sting out of the emotion. It can also help you take careful note of how those feelings are likely to affect your decisions.

2. Reframe Your Thoughts

Your emotions affect the way you perceive events. If you’re feeling anxious and you get an email from the boss that says she wants to see you right away, you might assume you’re going to get fired.

If you were feeling happy when you got that same email, your first thought might have been that you’re going to be promoted or congratulated on a job well done.

Consider the emotional filter you’re looking at the world through. Then, reframe your thoughts to develop a more realistic view.

If you catch yourself thinking, “This party is going to be so boring,” remind yourself, “It’s up to me to have fun. I can talk to people about interesting subjects and make the best of my time.”

Sometimes, the easiest way to gain a different perspective is to take a step back and ask yourself, “What would I say to a friend who had this problem?” Answering that question will take some of the emotion out of the equation so you can think more rationally.

If you find yourself dwelling on negative things, you may need to change the channel in your brain. A quick physical activity, like going for a walk or cleaning off your desk, can help you stop ruminating.

3. Engage in a Mood Booster

When you’re in a bad mood, you’re likely to engage in activities that keep you in that state of mind. Isolating yourself, mindlessly scrolling through your phone, or complaining to people around you are just a few of the typical “go-to bad mood behaviors” you might indulge in.

But, those things will keep you stuck. You have to take positive action if you want to feel better.

Think of the things you do when you feel happy. Do those things when you’re in a bad mood and you’ll start to feel better.

Here are a few examples of mood boosters:

  • Call a friend to talk about something pleasant (not to continue complaining).
  • Go for a walk.
  • Meditate for a few minutes.
  • Listen to uplifting music.

Keep Practicing Your Emotional Regulation Skills

Managing your emotions is tough at times. And there will likely be a specific emotion—like anger—that sometimes gets the best of you.

But the more time and attention you spend on regulating your emotions, the mentally stronger you’ll become. You’ll gain confidence in your ability to handle discomfort while also knowing that you can make healthy choices that shift your mood.

This article originally appeared on Inc.com.

Here’s How Meditation Can Help With Loneliness & Acceptance Of Your Emotions, According To Science

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Loneliness is something that everyone experiences at one point or another, but of course, just because it’s common, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to deal with. Whether you’re living in a brand new city away from your hometown, or you landed a job that requires you to work remotely instead of in an office, that feeling of being alone can be overwhelming at times. If you’re struggling with these emotions yourself, it might comfort you to know that meditation can help with loneliness, according to the results of a new study.

For the study, The New York Times reports, researchers gathered 153 adults who described themselves as “stressed out” (which, per the news outlet, was meant to distract the participants from the real focus of the study, i.e. loneliness). To establish a baseline of where the participants were at in terms of their mindset at the beginning of the study, the researchers asked them to fill out a survey that included questions about their interactions with others, their social networks, and whether they regularly deal with any feelings of loneliness.

Additionally, the researchers monitored the participants in real time over a period of three days by texting them questions about “what they were doing and with whom,” according to The New York Times — you know, kind of like how your parents would always ask you to tell them what you were doing with your friends when you were in middle school, except, hopefully less lame?

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After those baseline measures, the participants were given an app to use on their phone, and the researchers randomly divided the volunteers into three groups: In one group, the app gave the participants some general tips for dealing with stress. In another group, the app taught the volunteers about mindfulness and the practice of “paying close attention to the moment and focusing on breathing and other sensations,” per The New York Times. In the third group, the app taught the participants the same mindfulness techniques as the second group, with additional instructions to “take note of and say ‘yes’ aloud to all sensations,” according to the news outlet. For instance, if a participant noticed that they could physically feel their tongue on the roof of their mouth, or even if they mentally noticed a feeling of sadness, they would then have to say “yes” out loud. The researchers called this approach to mindfulness “equanimity.”

Each group was told to use the app for 20 minutes, then practice their respective techniques for another 10 minutes on their own, every day for two weeks, per The New York Times. To measure any differences between the participants’ baseline mindset and how they felt after using the mindfulness strategies for a couple weeks, the researchers gave them the same survey questions, as well as the same three-day text monitoring.

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The results of the study, which have been published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, showed that the general stress management and mindfulness techniques had little to no effect on the participants who practiced them — but here’s where things got really interesting: According to The New York Times, the participants who practiced “equanimity” meditation were “measurably more sociable,” engaged in “several more interactions with people that lasted at least a few minutes,” and their survey responses showed “a decline in their feelings of loneliness.”

The researchers told The New York Times that they believe the equanimity aspect of meditation was “key” in making a difference in participants’ feelings of loneliness. And it kind of makes sense when you think about it, right? As the researchers wrote in the abstract of their study, developing an “orientation of acceptance toward present-moment experiences” — even when those present-moment experiences are uncomfortable or difficult to accept — can make a huge difference in dealing with feelings of loneliness. In other words, actively accepting negativity when it comes to you, rather than squashing it down, pretending it doesn’t exist, or worse, judging yourself for having those feelings in the first place, seems to be an effective way to deal with these emotions overall.

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Counselor and relationship expert David Bennett (who was not involved in the study) says that meditation in general can help with “emotion regulation.” He tells Elite Daily in an email, “It can help you avoid the emotional ups and downs that come from reacting to the various events in your daily life.”

In a sense, Bennett explains, meditation can help to ground you in “something deeper than just feelings that come and go,” and being grounded can not only help you feel less lonely, it can help you take steps toward avoiding loneliness — like reaching out to a friend you haven’t spoken to in awhile to meet for coffee, or asking a co-worker you get along with if they’d like to join you for happy hour drinks.

Again, loneliness is something that everyone deals with, so don’t be ashamed if you’re struggling with it. Consider practicing this type of acceptance meditation the next time these feelings overwhelm you, and remember, if you need a little extra help, it’s always OK to touch base with a professional about what you’re going through.

What Are the Signs of Damaged Emotions?

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Healthy emotions are vital for well-being and harmonious relationships. Emotional damage can occur as a result of mental illness, trauma or a combination of both factors, and may impair a person’s ability to form relationships and handle everyday stressors. Learning to recognize the signs of damaged emotions allows you to identify problems sooner and alter the behaviors that perpetuate them.

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Trust Issues
While blind trust can be dangerous in some situations, an inability to trust loved ones can be a sign of emotional damage. According to AT Health, children who are abandoned by their parents often experience trust issues in adulthood, making it difficult to form close interpersonal relationships.

Lack of trust can result from painful past experiences, including acts of betrayal. Examples of situations that could trigger trust issues include abandonment as a child, romantic infidelity or a variety of forms of dishonesty.

Low Self-Esteem
Self-esteem refers to the way in which people view themselves and their worth. Low self-esteem can result from internal sources like mental health conditions or external causes like bullying. The “New York Times” lists low self-esteem as a common symptom of depression.

Signs of low self-esteem include shyness, anxiety about one’s appearance or competence, feelings of worthlessness and unnecessary guilt or shame. It’s possible to use positive affirmations to help raise self-esteem by reaffirming positive attributes.

Anger and Aggression
While unpleasant, anger is a natural emotional response that can be useful when channeled effectively. When managed improperly, anger is capable of tearing apart relationships and leading to frequent altercations between individuals.

Inappropriate anger can masquerade as jealousy, manipulation, suspicion or passive-aggressiveness. If allowed to continue unchecked, anger may even deteriorate into verbal or physical abuse. Long-term suppression of unpleasant emotions like anger can lead to inappropriate behaviors, reinforcing the need to handle anger as it arises.

Self-Destructive Behavior
Emotional damage often manifests as self-destructive or self-defeating behavior. Eating disorders, substance abuse and self-mutilation are examples of self-destructive behavior.

According to the American Humane Association, destructive behaviors like alcohol and drug abuse, suicide attempts and withdrawal can all result from emotional abuse.

Treatment Options
Many options exist for healing emotional damage. Counseling or group therapy can help patients work through unpleasant emotions and get to the heart of their issues. Trained mental health professionals offer solutions by teaching patients stress management techniques and coping skills to help deal with daily problems. When emotional damage affects married couples or families, couples counseling and family therapy may be helpful.

In cases of mental illness, medications like antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs may be prescribed in conjunction with talk therapy.