Emotional Check-Ins for Yourself and Others
I was on the elevator at the art school where I work the other day with one other guy, when a new person stepped in. The guy knew the new person, and said, “Hey! How’re you doing?”
The other person stammered.
“I’m… like… you know. I’m doing.”
“Yeah,” the guy said. “I get it. Me too.”
I wanted to be like, “Hey guys! Me too! And everyone I know, too! And the whole world, too! How are we doing!? THERE AREN’T WORDS!” But I didn’t, because then I would be that person on the elevator. The one who makes you get off three floors before you need to just to get away from them faster.
But the stammering response is familiar, especially right now. Times are heavy. It’s hard to really put a word on how you’re feeling. (I’ve written about this before, and provided a bunch of emotional vocabulary words for those of you who are interested in that.)
And still, it’s important for us to talk about how we’re doing. We don’t have to soliloquize to everyone we run into in an elevator about our inner churnings, but in moments of despair, connection is crucial. We are social, emotional animals. Sharing about feelings is physically healing for us. (There’s science to back that up, by the way.)
It’s not always easy to pinpoint how you’re feeling, and it can take way too much time to try to describe it to someone. What’s a person with limited time and language to do?
Enter: the emotional check-in.
I use these in my classroom every time I teach at the start of class. Classrooms are communities, and in order for people to feel good in them, they have to be at least a little connected to each other. Teacher Sophie likes to say, “By sharing how you feel, we can treat you the way you need to be treated on any given day. If you’re have a bad day, we can all work a little harder to be a little gentler with you.”
Here are a few templates.