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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Emotional Emergency Management: Step 4 of a 4 Step Process

This is it- the final step in the emotional management process.  Unfortunately, it's the most frequently overlooked piece and it often just doesn't get done.

You've taken the time to really define and figure out your emotions. You've considered the impact of those feelings and identified the events, situations, and people that increase your vulnerability to those emotions.  You've considered the gaps in your resources and built a plan. You've tested the plan, maybe even tried it out during an event. You might have reviewed and revised the plan a bit. Those are all part of the first three steps.  Now you're tired. 

You might be "riding high" on the success of a plan that worked well.  You might be so energized by it all that you're ready to tackle another emotion, or you're ready to 'fix" someone else.  You might be wallowing in the sorrow of a failed plan. You might be second guessing yourself, blaming others, judging your plan, yourself, everyone and everything in the universe. Most likely you're feeling a combination of both elation and defeat. You've changed a pattern and no matter how it went, the process is exhausting.

So that's when you stop. You go into recovery mode. This is when you retreat to that beach in your mind, set up your lawn chair, put your head back and feel the sun on your face (sun screen not required!). You do not go to that relaxing place in your mind to review the events.  You don't try to run the events through a picture screen. You face a blank canvas, a blue sky, and don't fill it with anything, least of all clouds to block your sun. This is not a critique of what you did, how you did, or even , what you should do next.  This is a blissful state of "being".

Echkhart Tolle, in The Power of Now, and his other books as well, writes about what he calls a "pain body".  He defines "this accumulated pain as a negative energy field that occupies your body and mind". He goes on to explain that we develop these emotionally negative patterns through past behavior, cultural experiences and collective groups.  Dr. Bach talks about negative emotions as well and explains how we often come to these places through learned behavior, sometimes inherited coping strategies. We are drawn to this energy not because it's good for us, right for us, or makes us feel happy. We are drawn because it is a pattern we know.  It's a feeling we identify with. We consider it part of us and we hold on to it. It's what we know and therefore it feel comfortable to us.

If you've really looked at your negative emotions and put a plan in place to change them in any way, you've started to break out of that "pain body" or that negative feeling. That feels uncomfortable. It's different. It's just a bit foreign.  It may be liberating, but it's still just a wee bit scary.  It's like buying a new pair of riding boots. You really love them, they look great, you know they fit, but you have to wear them in a bit to make them really feel good and you're tempted to put your old ones on so you don't get blisters in your efforts to work them in.  It takes some adjustment to feel comfortable with your plan and with a new emotional state.

You don't "do" anything to adjust. If only it were that simple.  You "be". You sit with yourself in a recovery, realignment, adjustment phase. You don't sit with yourself to "think".  You just allow recovery to occur without tweaking anything or trying to adjust.  It can happen if you don't force it and before you know it you forget why you really thought you had to go to the beach anyway!

It's okay to sit in the lawn chair in your mind and "feel how you feel" as long as you feel it rather than think it. That means you don't try to attach an event to the feeling- you just feel how you might be changed in a way. Don't judge it. Just feel it.  Depending on your personality type, you might need to get out of the lawn chair and do a bit of wave surfing to allow your body to readjust. In my opinion that's okay as long as you don't start judging your ability stay on top of the wave.

Once you've given yourself some time to adjust you can rebuild again. The point is that if you start to rebuild before you've allowed for adjustment you're likely to rebuild exactly the same structure all over again. Your pain body will help you do that if you're not careful.  If the structure wasn't hurricane proof the first time, the same structure won't be hurricane proof the next time either.  You might build it to withstand more winds and be a bit stronger the next time but there's a good chance you'll be facing destruction again.  But maybe, just maybe, if you let yourself adjust, you won't build in the same place again. Or maybe you'll come up with a structure that sways in the wind and welcomes the movement. For sure if you wait until the ground has settled under your feet again you'll find a new foundation to start your growth. Allow it to come.

The End.

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