I talk honestly and openly about my experiences with mental illness, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome through the lens of feminism, fat acceptance and process theology. I also do recipe and book reviews. My mission is to spread the message that hope is always real for a better life, despite living in a world that is often very harsh.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Emotion Regulation Insights Week 2

Take your everyday, ordinary life - your sleeping, eating, going to work, and walking around life - and place it before God as an offering. (The Message Bible 331)
In week 2, we looked at the model for describing emotions. We all have preexisting vulnerabilities (triggers).  Almost immediately, we interpret the event.  This is where we hold the most power, as it is our interpretation that determines how we feel. The interpretation brings on biological changes, such as hot flashes, headaches, sweat.  Our facial expressions, body language, words, and action change in response to our emotion brought on by the interpretation.  This brings on secondary emotions.  Another event occurs and the process starts all over again. And so...
  • Feelings make a lot of sense.
  • Knowledge is power.
  • Once we know, we can change.
The goal is to use mindfulness in order to slow down in order to determine the original interpretation of an event and to widen the possibilities.  Oftentimes we assume that an event is "bad" and so we feel negatively but if we look at our interpretation then we will realize that we have a lot more control over our negative emotions than we originally thought.  We are often like a person who only picks the top result in a Google search - we pay attention to the option (interpretation) that is the most threatening regardless of whether it is the most likely.  Our job is to sift through the possibilities and move towards the most likely interpretation - not the most threatening one. 

When looking back at an event, approach it with beginner's mind - how would someone with no previous history interpret the event? This is a good phrase to remember for CPS's talking with their peers, especially on the warmline.  After thinking of all the possibilities, look at what is probable vs. anything that is possible.  Basically, one has to learn how to balance first looking at an event with fresh eyes and then looking at it logically using past experiences.  The example that the therapist gave was that say someone delivers flowers to my office and I read the card. Before reacting to the event, it would be good to think of all possibilities of why that person would send me flowers (approaching with beginner's mind) and then looking at which possibility is the most probable.  This will prevent me from assuming the situation is bad if that person usually sends me flowers for a positive reason.  (It will also prevent me from assuming the situation is great if that person usually sends me flowers to cover up a huge mistake.)

Slowing down to be able to examine the possibilities and to make smarter interpretations is a process that takes some time.  More and more I am realizing that it will take daily intentional practice of mindfulness and I am trying to incorporate that more into my routine.  Even that will be a process, as new habits take time to form.  I am encouraged though when I think of the power this will give me.  I am so impressed by this potential power that I am quite motivated and excited to up my mindfulness game.

Two Tips: 
 If feeling overwhelmed, then refer to HALT - Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired.

 Anger is a secondary emotion, like wrapping paper - it covers the underlying emotion with more intense sensations. 

In conclusion, take all of your preconceived notions and interpretations that no longer serve you and place them before your higher power or maybe just banish them to the air, look at your life with a beginner's mind and then use your wise mind (the balance of emotion and logic) to make an interpretation that will be more effective and beneficial for you.
     

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