EQ: Emotional Expression

Stressed?!!? Well Let’s Start With ‘Feelings are NOT Facts’

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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:

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Emotional State

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 Empowermenttemper-tantrum-girl

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!

Brain Nerd

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

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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!?!

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Here are some coping skills to throw into this Regulatory Flexibility model 🙂


Emotion Regulation Strategiesemotion-surfing

Let’s build some…

Mindfulness Practice

Distress Tolerance Skills

Emotion Regulation Strategies

“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 couldToday.jpg 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

Writing prompts…

“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:

Your life is your story. Write it well and edit often!


My Advice On …

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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

heather.drummond@mohawkcollege.ca

Make Good Things Happen

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Ok, today is the day that I am going to ask you to do some thing RADICAL!

be-radical

Fun Right?!?!

Well, yes and no, but a super important topic for anyone who wants to grow, heal and move forward in their life.

RADICAL ACCEPTANCE

Wait what?!?! yes, let’s focus on one of the most fundamental parts of emotion regulation, personal empowerment, self compassion and overall life balance.

“acceptance of life as it is, not as it is supposed to be; and the need to change, despite that reality and because of it” – Dr. Marsha Linehan

There are three parts to radical acceptance.

  1. The first part is accepting that reality is what it is.
  2. The second part is accepting that the event or situation causing you pain has a cause.
  3. The third part is accepting life can be worth living even with painful events in it.

Radical Acceptance is a part of a therapeutic approach called Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) designed by the amazing psychologist, Dr. Marsha Linehan. This therapeutic approach was invented to help people, who were suffering terribly, learn to regulate their emotions and live a life worth living. Even though you may not be suffering, most people find themselves, at some point, in a state of wanting a life that is different that they are currently experiencing. Sometimes it is this wanting or wishing that lowers our self esteem and increases sadness or life dissatisfaction. The first step on the path to living a life that you want, is accepting the life that you currently have and then deciding what you are willing to work hard on to change.


I am not saying that this is easy. It is actually a very difficult practice, but from experience I can tell you that the result of your effort is astounding emotional freedom and personal empowerment.


Want to Get Started Radically Accepting?

Start with asking yourself the following questions about a recent difficult situation in your life:

Radical Acceptance: “So that happened…”

  1. What events led up to the distressing situation?Acceptance.jpg
  2. What role did you play in creating this situation?
  3. What role did other people / another person play in creating this situation?
  4. What did you have control of in this situation?
  5. What didn’t you have control of in this situation?
  6. What was your response to this situation?
  7. How did your response affect your own thoughts and feelings?
  8. How did your response affect the thoughts and feelings of other people?
  9. How could you have changed your response to this situation to lead to less suffering for yourself and others?
  10. How could this situation have occurred differently if you had decided to radically accept the situation?

Source: For more information about how to explore these questions: CLICK HEREill-be-fineSo when your not so fine, start working on some mindfulness and self compassion…

 


To live the best version of a life we first have to accept our life as it is and get out of the rut of wishing it was different, especially with things that are out of our control. Once you accept and acknowledge, we can then decide what WE want to do about it.

#MakeGoodThingsHappen

Take the time to work hard and design the best possible life for yourself. Be the main character in your story.


 

I would love to hear the good things that you are making happen in your life. Tweet me @SuccessMohawk and use #MakeGoodThingsHappen. Let’s share and learn from each other 🙂

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD (Counselling Psychology)

eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success

heather.drummond@mohawkcollege.ca

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Hangry? #Emotional Expression

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Today, I want to focus on a sweet little tool that can help you with your emotional self-awareness, emotion regulation and emotion expression. I see so many people that get caught up in the Emotional Reasoning (CBT) cycle and make decisions based upon how they feel. They decide to say something, do something or act in a particular way that is not “them”.

Example from Pop Culture

Have you seen the hilarious Snickers “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” commercials?

Check this one out!

Even though this humour is meant to sell a chocolate bar, it is also very true and a great example of how our emotional state can be effected by something as simple as hunger.


 

The psychotherapeutic approach Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) is a wonderful collection of skill building strategies that all human beings need to navigate successfully in this world. DBT focuses on building Interpersonal Effectiveness, Mindfulness, Emotion Regulation and Distress Tolerance. For this post, the concept of the “wise mind” is the DBT concept that I will focus on.
wise-mind

We need utilize both the emotional mind and the reasonable mind processes in order to manage our life in a way that supports our goals, our dreams, builds healthy relationships, helps in our pursuit of happiness and anything that supports you to flourish.

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Achieving the Wise Mind State

One quick and awesome strategy that can help you to utilize both your emotional process and your logical process is H.A.L.T!

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Have you ever experienced an emotional reaction, or a behaviour, in a situation that is uncharacteristic of you or not how you would normally behave? Well then, stop, be curious and ask your self the following:

  • When was the last time I ate something?Surf the emotion
  • Am I angry about something else? Is something unsolved?
  • Have I been feeling isolated physically or emotionally?
  • Am I tired from a long week, a difficult time in my life or from a health issue?

If you can answer yes to being any one of these, hungry/ angry/lonely/tired, just stop, solve the problem, give some space before you decide to act. You are then asking your Logical Mind to participate.


 

Just because you feel something; doesn’t make it true!

Check in with your logical mind. Sometimes emotions are just telling you that you are not taking care of yourself, that you are in a similar situation from your past when you did not have the skills to deal with it or they are a result of being hungry/angry/lonely/tired.


My suggestion today is work on shifting your mindset from being a victim to your emotional state to being an empowered human that is curious about what your emotions are telling you. Listen. Overcome the obstacles.

Here is an inspirational TedEd video to get you started on the right track, with the best mindset and optimal state of mind (mood) to become an amazing translator of your emotional language.

Overcoming Obstacles

with Steven Claunch


 

PsychNerd Time!Brain Nerd

You know I couldn’t leave you without a bit of PsychNerd babble 😉

The research team of Yip and Côté (2013) found that people with high emotional intelligence make smarter decisions because they aren’t swayed by their current emotional state.

From their results, they found that great decision-making is not about eliminating all emotions: they are a vital source of information. It is important to acknowledge the emotional information and decide if it helps or hurts your current task. Those with high levels of emotional intelligence are more likely to ignore those emotions that have nothing to do with their decision.

Good news! Emotional Intelligence can be bolstered and enhanced! Start with H.A.L.T today and stop, reflect and decide before you act on emotion alone.


 

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Emotions-quote-by-Maya-Angelou

 

Being hangry is not an excuse for bad behaviour…

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD

eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Successheather.drummond@mohawkcollege.ca

Stress Management: The Artful Balance in Emotion Regulation

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Blessing

What?!?! There is a blessing inside the storm that is stress?

Yes, I hate to be the messenger of bad news…actually I don’t 😉 but , yes, adversity can change us for the better if we let it (I always say to my teenage kid, Jack…and he has listened!).

So, since that is my stance, there is a “silver lining”, let’s focus on building our emotion regulation skills which will have a beautiful side effect of lowering our stress levels.

Now, wouldn’t that be awesome?!?

Last Week, I talked about the benefits of emotion regulation in my post, Emotion Regulation: Why it Contributes to Academic Success. This week I want to expand on that notion and start sharing strategies that can help.


 

Here is an infographic that gives some great advice:

Mental-Health-Stress

I know what you are probably thinking, “yeah, great advice, but what if I can not even get myself to do any of those things?”. I know, most people don’t “feel” like doing anything; however, if you have a idea of “how” to get moving, and that there is a tangible benefit (light at the end of the tunnel), you can kick your own butt and at least get started. Really, between you and me, I rarely feel like doing anything; but I have definitely learned to like the positive outcomes from my effort. Think big picture, think “where will this get me?”, and get moving toward your goals. Today’s goal is to find ways to lower stress so that you can enjoy your life more.


 

Get Started PsychNerd Style

Brain Nerd

 

Did you know that you can do things BEFORE, DURING and AFTER an event to help regulate your emotional state? Yeah! According to Dr. Gross who developed the Process Model of Emotion Regulation (Gross, 1998) employing strategies before, during and after and event can significantly effect your emotional state.

Things You Can Do Before (Anticipation)

  • You can decide to participate in events that are good for you.
  • You can choose the amount of time you will spend at an event ahead of time.
  • You can plan the best way for you to get yourself there.
  • You can learn more about what you are getting yourself into.

Things You Can Do During (Change the Experience):

  • You can choose to be fully present (Mindfulness) in that moment. Not focused on the past or the future, but focus on what is happening now.
  • You can choose to focus on the positive aspects of the situation.

Things You Can Do After (Reminisce about the Experience):

  • You can look at photos of the event and remember the fun that you had (delete the ones that are less happy).
  • When you describe your experience to others, choose to share the mostly the positive aspects of your experience.
  • You can focus on gratitude, noticing how lucky you are to have the opportunity to experience great things in your life.

In the BEFORE, DURING and AFTER experience you also have the opporunity to use the following skills in all 3 categories (mentioned in last weeks blog post):

  1. You can SELECT the situation that you are participating in.
  2. You can MODIFY the situation once you are in it.
  3. You can focus your ATTENTION on the positive or negative (I recommend a lean to the positive).
  4. You can choose/change your THOUGHTS about the situation.
  5. You can choose how you RESPOND to the situation.

Check out this great example!

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Emotion Regulation Example

(Quoidbach et al. , 2015)


Ok, now that you know that you have options, let’s get working!


 

Try This Today: Build Your Character Strength

One way of bolstering your emotion regulation capacity is to start with identifying your top strengths and find a new way to use one of these strengths in a different manner every day (Seligman et al., 2005).

Curious about your strengths? Take this Brief Strengths Test Today! 

Click Here

(you will find the Brief Strengths Test under the Questionnaires dropdown menu)


More Stress Management Strategies?

Check out some of my previous blog posts:

 

Stress Management Tips


 

It is not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it. Start working on your reaction to stressful situations by practicing emotion regulation strategies.

Each week I will be blogging about a new Emotion Regulation Strategy.

Join me!

Happy Friday!

Dr. Heather Drummond, EdD

eSuccess-Coach * Passionate Advocate for Student Success

heather.drummond@mohawkcollege.ca

References

Gross, J. J. (1998). The emerging field of emotion regulation: An integrative review. Review of General Psychology, 2, 271-299. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/1089- 2680.2.3.271

Quoidbach, J. Mikolajczak, M,  and Gross, J. (2015). Positive interventions: An emotion regulation perspective. Psychological Bulletin, Vol 141(3), May 2015, 655-693.

Transition: Optimal Time to Focus on Personal Wellness

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Exams are coming to an end this week. It is no secret that the end of semester grind is a tough one. At this time, we tend to neglect our overall wellbeing in the pursuit of pure survival…junk food (awesome), sleep deprivation (not awesome), procrastination (stress inducing) and high anxiety (exhausting and definitely not awesome).

You now have a chance to do all of the things you did when procrastinating, but GUILT FREE now! Sound easy? Nope…it is not easy for people  move smoothly into a less anxiety provoking phase. Often our mind/body is still primed for this academic battle. Take a moment to focus on your own wellness and make a plan to transition in a way that is best for you.

“The part can never be well unless the whole is well.” Plato.

Resources to Get You Started…

I have uploaded a presentation from a workshop that I frequently facilitate for students in various programs. The content focuses around “The Wheel of Wellness” which is a great way to conceptualize all the areas of your life that you need to consider when creating a balanced life.

Presentation: Wellness & Life Balance – Creating a Stress-Resistant Student Experience

Also…

Check out this Video!

TedTalk: “The Happiness Advantage: Linking Positive Brains to Performance”


Next Week…

Next week I will include a Wellness Assessment for the folks who just love taking tests 😉 Check back if you are interested!


I would love to hear your feedback, so please don’t be shy 🙂

Dr. Heather Drummond, Ed.D. (Counselling Psychology)

Counsellor, Professor & Passionate Advocate for Student Success

heather.drummond@mohawkcollege.ca