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Everyday human life is highly emotional. Research indicates we are feeling at least one emotion 90% of the time (National Institute of Health). The feeling could be joy or sadness. Anxiety or confusion. Regardless of which emotion we are experiencing at any given moment, there is one emotion that overshadows the rest and I call this our “root emotion.” Our root emotion is the emotion we struggle to manage the most and is the driving force in our decision making. It is the emotion that brings us into therapy or leads us to start taking an anti-depressant. It is the emotion that causes us to dissolve our marriage, lose our job or wake up at 5am each morning to exercise.

The sooner we can identify and harness our root emotion, the easier our lives become. Living with an untamed root emotion is like driving down a street filled with traffic cones and roadblocks. Root emotions block us from taking chances, seeing opportunities, interacting with others and living freely. Our lives become small and our frustration increases. We are unable to flow with ease. Our root emotion is blocking our way.

If we choose to face our root emotion and harness it; a Super Skill will emerge. A Super Skill is born when we channel our root emotion into a positive skill that will dramatically enhance our lives. It’s like cracking open an ugly rock to find a beautiful gem inside. Super Skills propel us to accomplish things we would have never imagined.

The example below is a teenager who turned anxiety into a Super Skill:

Root Emotion: Worry

Automatic Response: Avoidance, stagnation

Methods of Channeling: Cognitive strategies, exercise

Super Feeling: Motivation

In the above scenario, the teen was able to harness worry by learning cognitive strategies in psychotherapy and beginning a morning exercise routine to help curb cortisol before entering the school day. Their Super Skill was channeled into motivation. Instead of being worried about doing well academically, they created goals, developed a study routine and began researching colleges with good pre-med programs. They achieved their goal of getting into a pre-med program and are currently excelling in school by maintaining goal setting, exercise and sustained motivation.  

As a parent, caregiver, counselor or childcare provider, you can help a child find their Super Skill. The first step in the process is to help them find their root feeling. For counselors, you can help children learn about root feelings in the Counselor Toolkit which will take you from A-Z, beginning with normalizing feelings and ending with children managing emotions on their own. For parents, you can start with the All the Feels Feeling Cards to help your child identify their root feeling and learn effective strategies to manage it. Once your child has identified their feeling they can use the All the Feels Poster to help rate the emotion and choose an effective strategy.

Once you begin this process, it’s amazing what the emotional gain will be. A Super Skill will emerge and the root emotion will be transformed. Children struggling with sadness become fantastic artists. Shy children become excellent writers. Children who struggle with anger become fierce athletes. The channeling of any emotion can lead to life-changing results.

Just imagine what a child could be capable of if they could harness their root emotion. Imagine if they weren’t afraid of doing the things they most wanted to do. What if they had the motivation and passion to take advantage of the opportunities they have? My hope is that by helping kids identify their Super Skill while they’re young, they will be able to accomplish all of their goals, even more than they could have ever imagined.

To Super Skills,


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