Permission to Feel Book Summary - Permission to Feel Book explained in key points
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Permission to Feel summary

Marc Brackett

Unlocking the Power of Emotions to Help Our Kids, Ourselves, and Our Society Thrive

4.6 (186 ratings)
27 mins

Brief summary

Permission to Feel by Marc Brackett is a guide to emotional intelligence that explores how to identify, understand and manage our emotions. It offers practical tools and strategies to create a positive emotional culture within ourselves and our community.

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    Permission to Feel
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    Learning to identify and accept his emotions transformed the author’s life.

    As little kids, we freely express our emotions. But as we get older, many of us are told to toughen up and push those feelings away – with terrible results for our well-being. 

    The author, Professor Marc Brackett, is very familiar with that experience. As a young boy, he was in constant emotional pain. He was bullied at school and sexually abused by a neighbor who was a family friend. To make matters worse, his community socially ostracized him when the abuse was discovered. 

    Struggling with their own problems, his parents couldn’t provide any support – his mother was an alcoholic, and his father was always enraged. They had no idea how to deal with their own emotions, let alone his. 

    The key message here is: Learning to identify and accept his emotions transformed the author’s life.

    Like generations before him, Marc learned to push his feelings down, hoping to make them disappear. He was so successful that he became completely numb. 

    But ignoring his emotions only made them stronger – and even more toxic. It affected his behavior. He did badly in school, fought with his parents, and was generally surly and misbehaved. Most people found him unpleasant and avoided him, or punished him. But nobody stopped to question why he was acting out. Until, in the author’s own words, “a miracle took place.” This miracle came in the form of his uncle Marvin.

    Marvin was a teacher. Unlike other adults in Marc’s life, he really took the time to listen. He showed Marc that he valued his company. One day, he asked him a seemingly simple question: “How are you feeling?” No one had asked him that before – especially not someone who really wanted to know the answer. Suddenly, all of Marc’s sadness, loneliness, and anger flooded out of him. He sobbed and released his feelings for the first time. 

    With this life-changing moment, the author opened a window to his feelings; now he could finally start learning how to deal with them. Despite being painful, releasing all those years of bottled-up emotions allowed him to start connecting with himself. Thus began his journey of healing and a career dedicated to helping others deal with their emotions.

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    What is Permission to Feel about?

    Permission to Feel (2019) reveals that our emotions play a vital role in our cognitive processes, physical health, and relationships – but most of us don’t know how to identify exactly what we’re feeling, and why. Luckily, all of us can learn to be more emotionally intelligent by practicing emotion skills. This trains us to identify what we’re feeling, understand where the emotion is coming from, and manage our triggers. By giving ourselves permission to truly experience all of our emotions, we can greatly reduce stress and increase our well-being.

    Best quote from Permission to Feel

    Feelings are a form of information. Theyre like news reports from inside our psyches. 

    —Marc Brackett
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    Who should read Permission to Feel?

    • Burned-out teachers who want to reconnect with their students 
    • Parents who want to teach their children how to deal with their emotions
    • Anyone struggling to manage their emotions at home or at work

    About the Author

    Marc Brackett, PhD, is a research psychologist, the founding director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, and a professor in the Child Study Center at Yale University. He is also the lead developer of RULER, a curriculum for developing emotional intelligence, which has been taught to over one million students of all ages across the globe. 

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