Weathering the Storm...
Many patients ask me, "what can I do when things get difficult emotionally?" "How do I handle things when I'm not here in the office?" These are great questions-and the whole point of therapy really- is to take what you've learned, and use it when the going gets rough. When it comes to emotion management, there's something important to know: Emotions are ALWAYS running the show. How do we know this? Well, have you ever tried very diligently to use your new-found perspective, inspiration, or attitude? It may have been your mantra for the past few days, but when you're in the middle of an emotional storm, the emotion wins. Seemingly against your will, you're angry, irrational, or out of control again. And then, the guilt comes. You could have sworn you would handle things differently this time!
Well, here's the good news on your path to getting it together emotionally: you're actually in control. You just have to let go a little. That is to say, learning to ride the waves of your emotions, and knowing your emotional go-to patterns, will serve you well.
Here's the technique:
Pre-work: Take some time in therapy, or on your own, to write a short list of your emotional go-to patterns. What emotional thread is waiting to be pulled for you? Do you go to self loathing quickly? Or perhaps you're a hot-head, and defensiveness jumps out before you can catch it. Find your pattern, and get to know it.
The Work: When someone or something pulls at your emotional thread, know that its coming from an important place. Honor it, listen to it, and watch it. MOST IMPORTANTLY, breath with it. That right- literally breath as you're feeling this storm of emotion. This keeps you in your emotion and out of your head, so the emotion can travel on through like its supposed to.
See, most people don't realize that we THINK OUR THOUGHTS, when we're supposed to be FEELING them. And, thats the whole game- emotions can only be felt. When you feel them fully- their energy flows pretty quickly and the storm is over. And, the best part- there's no collateral damage. The emotions don't get stuck, and you're in control the whole time.