Drowning in your feelings? Feeling overwhelmed?
I was going to write about study strategies today; however, I have been completely overwhelmed by the emotional pain my students have been experiencing lately. So, I thought that maybe study strategies would be a wee bit too lame of a topic under the circumstances. I have decided to share the perspective, the strategies and the experience of others (you are definitely not alone in this) that happen every day in my counselling office. Why should all this great information stay in a counselling box?!?! …me thinks…
So…Here I go…
Emotions, Emotions, Emotions
Blah, blah, blah…what are these feelings you speak of?!? Well…let’s start here:
Yes, emotions can be VERY scary. I am not saying that they are not or that you shouldn’t “feel” a certain way. What I am doing is challenging you with the following questions: How do you want to react to the emotions? How do you want to live your life? What emotional house do you want to live in?
Yes, you have a choice.
A choice that requires a bunch of commitment and work. It is not easy, but I assure you the hard and scary change/growth work is well worth the struggle to get there. I do this every day in my own life. It gets so much easer with practice, so much so it has become a habit for me. I get it, it’s hard, but come on! Give it a go. What do you really have to lose? Oh, yeah, you may lose the constant suffering version of yourself. It all seriousness, this can be a hard shift. But still, let’s imagine a different life experience.
Let’s start with a seemingly simple formula that I will base the rest of this post on:
Emotional State + Emotion Regulation =
Pretty Awesome State of Personal Empowerment
I love this graphic! This little cutie pretty much says it all.
This is often the look I get when I am talking about the possibility of change with my students.
Yup, Getting PsychNerdy on Y’all Again!
Just sharing the “FACTS” about emotion regulation, just to let you know that it is really possible 😉 Science says so!
There is some pretty great recent research looking at a bunch of different findings combined all together in a beautiful Regulatory Flexibility model. Ok, that is psychnerdy speak for taking all the best stuff and mushing it together in a way that people can understand and use easily in research and in their lives.
People respond to stressful events in different ways, depending on the event and on the regulatory strategies they choose. Coping and emotion regulation theorists have proposed dynamic models in which these two factors, the person and the situation, interact over time to inform adaptation. Source: Regulatory Flexibility: An Individual Differences Perspective on Coping and Emotion Regulation by George A. Bonanno & Charles L. Burton
Translation of Fig.1: So you have a stressful event in your life, you look at what it will take to work through it and decide if you can handle it, you then start using your coping skills, then decide if the strategy solved your problem or not. The flexibility part comes in as you keep on persevering and/or trying different strategies to cope. This is how you build resilience and adapt beautifully in life.
So now what? You ask!?!
Here are some coping skills to throw into this Regulatory Flexibility model 🙂
Emotion Regulation Strategies
Let’s build some…
“We are not responsible for what breaks us, but we can be responsible for what puts us back together again. Naming the hurt is how we begin to repair our broken parts.” – Desmond Tutu, The book of Forgiving
EMOTIONS (What FEELS True) + EVIDENCE (What is ACTUALLY True) =
Balanced Approach to Examining Information
*Don’t rely on how you feel alone. Feelings are great, but on their own, they may not be completely accurate in terms of the message being sent. Just because you feel it does NOT make it true. Look for the evidence.
Recipe for Writing a New Chapter in Your Life Story
Start with taking responsibility for your life.
“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.”― Theodore Roosevelt
…Then start writing a new story.
“If you own this story you get to write the ending.” ― Brené Brown
“I am a person who feels lots of things but they don’t define me. I am a person who takes responsibility for my own life and experience. I am a person who will work hard to create a life I love. I am….”
Here are some tools to get you started on creating a new life story:
- Gratitude Journal
- Gratitude Visit
- Acts of Kindness
- Developing Meaning
- Design a Beautiful Day
- Positive Traits Worksheet
- Life Story Worksheet
Your life is your story. Write it well and edit often!
My Advice On …
Take a deep breath, and then another one, foster a self-compassionate mindset, examine those feelings and don’t assume they are facts.
Please don’t ever feel that I don’t want to hear your thoughts…I do! Send ’em along 🙂
Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD (Counselling Psychology)
eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success