Having several positive traits that compile a “goody bag” that we can reach down into during emotional lows can be extremely beneficial to our well being. When you feel challenged, take a moment to be present with the issue and use one of the traits you’ve identified to impact the issue. For example, recalling that deep sense of love you earlier felt may get you through some of the teenage years with that same child!
So the next time you become frustrated learning a new task; try recalling the sense of calm you had in some prior experience. Bring it to mind and really feel the feeling that you had at that time. Spend a few minutes with that emotion, take some deep breaths, and tackle that project again!
Professional Helpers: To learn an exercise to assist with this, read on!
Who you can do this with: This technique may be used with individuals or groups of individuals, any age of people who can write or draw, any people who can identify some positive character traits (come on, everyone has some!). Tip: For individuals requiring more assistance, do some work on identification of the traits prior to the exercise. More Tips: If you work in a group, work with one willing participant, but have the others silently work on their own. Most people will benefit working along with you.
Why you will use this: The most effective method to solidify “checkpoints” is to integrate the emotional state across the mind/body/spirit triad using experiential tactics.
Where you will do this: Since this exercise may involve people shutting their eyes and performing physically, you will do this in an environment which the people you are working with perceive as safe. You will have enough space to allow some limited movement.
When will you do this: When someone you are working with needs to tap into some emotional state this can be a useful exercise. Additionally, you will need to have a fair degree of rapport with the person or people you are working with. This will take approximately 45 minutes for most people, but remember progress is guided by the person you are working with.
How to do this:
1. Have the person recall a desired emotional state and discuss a time they recall feeling it strongly. Focus more on the feeling vs. the situation. For instance, don’t tell me about the trip to the beach, tell me about the calmness that you felt. You will allow the person to talk with minimal guidance from you, however, you will steer them to talk about each of their senses as they experienced this calm.
I watched ocean’s horizon stretching out so far it melted into the sky. There were seagulls flying over my head…….(sight) I heard the rhythmic sound of the waves washing in……(sound) I felt the warmth of the sun on my back and the softness of the towel on my face……(touch) I tasted the crisp, cool goodness of my water……(taste) I smelled the salt from the seawater on my skin……(smell)
2. You can see that each of these could apply across several senses. Allow this to develop and encourage description of the calmness with as much sensory association as possible. Allow practice of this and return to it multiple times. When the individual appears to have easy access to that emotion, move on.
3. Have the person pick a word that represents that emotion. They may use the word itself, a sound or another word. In the presented example, they may use the word “calm” or they may use the sound “ahhhh” or they may use the word “water”. You will discourage use of a word that is contradictory to the emotion. For instance, you would not want them to use “lightening” to represent calm!
4. Once the word has been chosen, have the person access that emotional state again by following the above activity. Have them speak the chosen word multiple times. I like multiples of three and I would probably start with 12 repetitions. You may choose more or less, but remember, the person you’re working with needs more repetition than you think, so go until you think you’re done and then do a few more!
5. To REALLY integrate the ability to access this emotion, we need to align it with the body as well. Have the person stand, sit or lie in a position that represents this feeling of calm.
6. Now you are going to bring it all together. In the position chose in step 5, have the person again access that feeling state. Walk them through the senses again as necessary until you feel they have again achieved this state. Now have them repeat the chosen word from step 3 about 12 more times. The person now has several cues for this feeling “checkpoint”: body position, feeling state, and the word used.
7. The person you are working with will likely have a sense of mastery over this after this amount of practice. Check in with them to ensure confidence of easily recalling this feeling state.
8. To go even further, have the individual make a “flash card” using the emotional state identified. Write the word chosen in step 3. Alternately, have the person draw a picture that represents that word to them. Encourage use of different marker colors on large index cards to be easily seen. This will further enrich the experience and is also useful with children or those who would especially benefit from a physical cue.
9. Practice utilizing the flashcard to now evoke the feeling state explored. Rather than your cue to recall the sensory information, encourage the person you are working with to do so on their own.
Result: Ensure they have mastered this and request repeated practice with or without the flash card in between meetings. The person you are helping should now be able to access a desired feeling state. They have the memory of the feeling state. They have the experience of recalling the feeling state. They have aligned the feeling state with visualization, auditory tags and kinesthetics. Encourage use of the practiced emotion when they are in a situation where it is needed.
Try this and let me know how it goes by leaving me a comment!