We are actively taught how to do so many things – how to read and write, drive a car, cook and swim, but we aren’t actively taught how to navigate our emotions or feelings.
All psychological therapies have the aim of helping us regulate or navigate our feelings. Cognitive behaviour therapy says that if we can recognise what our thoughts are, and learn to challenge or reframe them, we will be able to feel better. Hypnosis says if we can focus on what is good we can learn to feel good. EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing) involves pairing a memory with a negative belief and then a positive belief, to change how we feel about similar situations which may arise in the future.
Keeping this in mind is like to introduce a map or steps which can use to actively work through your feelings:
Step One – Awareness
Often people unconsciously react with their emotions without really being aware of what is going on. Say a man who is prone to road rage might just say, “it just happens” – blaming others drivers for making mistakes or seeming disrespectful to him. His only awareness is that he’s now in trouble for deliberately hitting someone else’s car.
Instead we want people to “check in” and recognise both the intensity of their emotions as well as the underlying thought process which is probably fueling the emotion.
We can assist awareness by being curious, reflective and asking questions about the link between thought and feelings (emotions and physical sensations)
Step Two – Expression
Expression helps the emotion move from something we are simply aware of to being processed. In therapy, we use words to express and the expression along with compassionate curiosity can help people process.
Other forms of expression or “getting it out” can include playing music, dancing, going for a run or journaling,
Step Three and Four – Validating and Soothing
These two steps can go together in that validating can be part of soothing. Essentially we are saying that it is okay to feel emotions rather feel distressed or guilty about which feelings we are are experiencing.
Step Five – Resilience
This is what we are told all the time – to get on with things – to focus on doing.
If this is our only pathway for navigating emotions we would expect that repression is the main coping mechanism which can prove unhelpful in developing insights and a sense of choice regarding our emotions, which can often add to emotional difficulties rather than help us.
If you would like to book in with any one of our Psychologists please don’t hesitate to contact us by calling: 6381 0297 or booking online at: www.revivehealthandhappiness.com.au