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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Emotional Emergency Management: Step 1 of a 4 Step Process

Maybe it's the post-holiday crash. Maybe it's the winter weather. Maybe it's the thoughts of a long hard winter. Perhaps it's the uncertainty of changing times and a new era of 2012. Whatever the reason, it seems like there is a lot of emotional upheaval "out there" combined with real concerted efforts to make things change. In my opinion that's a good thing.  It's when long time issues meet motivation that change occurs and we actually start to move forward. But it's not always easy to take the first step- to see the first step to take. I'm a big believer in integrating both sides of our brains.  When your emotional side reaches a crisis level, it's the perfect time to apply some scientific, logical principles from the left side of your brain.  In my world, that's a good time for emergency management  principles to integrate with emotional healing in a four step process.

When approaching a problem in the emergency/crisis world, the first step is to "identify the hazard". It's the same step for emotional management.  The first step is to identify the emotion.  Sounds easy...

We really aren't that good at describing how we feel.  We are much better at describing symptoms or relating events but when our emotions and thoughts run amok we sometimes  loose sight of how we are truly feeling. To find that perspective is the first step.  It's the "take a deep breath in, slowly breath out and consider how you feel inside" step.

Dr. Bach identified 38 different emotions. 38!  We usually stick to about 4 or 5: happy, sad, mad, scared, guilty. We have variations of those: "really happy", "sort-of sad", "furious", and "partly my fault". This limited emotional vocabulary really hinders our healing.  It also reflects a resistance to talk about and deal with our feelings.  In my opinion, we don't do a good job of teaching our children this so we grow up squishing our emotions and not being able to express them.

In my perfect world, round about the time that kids are learning to color pictures together we would teach them an emotional vocabulary. When the kid beside you had a much prettier shade of red crayon that was sharpened to a fine point and you grabbed it away from him and all heck broke loose, you could explain to the teacher, or the teacher could help you realize, that you were actually envious of that kid; not "angry". Seems like he always gets the good stuff. And the kid you grabbed it from that held on with tooth and nail (perhaps literally!) could explain that he was feeling possessive, perhaps a bit over-protective of his beautiful red crayon: not "angry".  Seems like people are often taking things away from him. It seems to me that if someone could help us see our emotions for what they were, we might find better solutions to our problems.  It might take a long time to get our mural colored, but it seems to me that might go a long way towards learning the important lessons of self and life in general. We might  understand the other kids better and find better ways of resolving our disputes.

When we don't delve into the emotional side of our brains and think about how we truly feel we put logical solutions to emotional problems that don't always fit.  We use the scientific part of our brains and really ignore the emotional side. Kids learn rules that :"you can't take crayons that don't  belong to you away by force" and "you have to share your crayons no matter how much you like them". That might work as a rule in kindergarten when the teacher's looking, but it really doesn't apply in the real world no matter how tightly we hang on to that belief.

If you're past the coloring/kindergarten stage that's okay.  It's not too late to learn. And, in my opinion if you want to change your inner landscape at all, the time to learn is now.  It's time to go within and figure out exactly how you are feeling.  It's the integration of putting your feelings into words.

So here's the homework assignment.  Review this following list of 38 emotions. They are based on one-word or short phrase descriptions of the Bach Flower essence indications. You could turn each of them around to positive emotions, but if we're honest, we really don't have as much issue with our positive emotions. See which ones are common to you. See if any of them really strike a cord for you or more aptly describe your present feelings.

Ashamed of self
Depression with no origin
Disinterest in Present
Dis-trustful of self
Fear for Others
Fear of Losing Control
Keep repeating same mistake
Lack Energy (mental and physical)
Lack of Confidence
Mentally weary
Numb from Shock
Obsessive worrying thoughts
Over-attached to the past
Physically Exhausted
Pre-occupied with Self
Suppress Discomfort
Unadaptable to change
Unsettled/Lack direction

If you don't like this list- make up your own.  There are many ways to describe your feelings, the key is to pull them out and identify them in ways that are meaningful to you. Spend some time inside yourself and see what you feel. 

That's step 1. Stay tuned for Steps 2-4! In the meantime, just allow yourself to feel.

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