What do you see in the mirror? A victim, someone oppressed, afraid, and alone? Perhaps you see a champion desperately fighting to dig their way out of a “hostage” situation. Or, your reflection is of a warrior, one who continually finds a battle within to muster through.
I’ve lived each of these versions. Believe me, I get how hard it can be to quiet the intrusive thoughts that accompany them and even more tricky to see past the facades. Our reflections can be a challenge to face, they can even trick us and give us the illusion of triumph. Especially when our emotional and environmental health are continuously in a state of battle and we think carrying around our past traumas is the way to protect us going forward.
I’m here to tell you that there is nothing more freeing, no steps more worth taking, then to learn how to face being distressed, appropriately leave the pain behind, and lead with a new lens. This is what reduces your vulnerability going forward and allows you to shine in the light you wish to see yourself. This is what gives you the tools to live in control of your moments and provides you the demeanor of someone who has all they need, no more debilitating fear, no need to fight or claw, no more battles. Just the confidence necessary to sit in and move through the uncomfortable with dignity and grace.
Overcoming the temptation to let your emotions consume you is no easy feat, but I have some strategies that I want to equip you with!
Here’s what you need to know:
Ø FACE BEING DISTRESSED: The ability to tolerate and accept distress is an essential mental health goal for two reasons; #1 pain and distress are a part of life, #2 distress tolerance is a part of any attempt to change oneself. The distress tolerance behaviors targeted are concerned with tolerating and surviving crisis and with accepting life as it is in the moment.
Ø DEVELOP EFFECTIVE DISTRACTION TECHNIQUES AND UPDATE YOUR SELF-SOOTHING TACTICS: Think about it. If your go-to method to find solace looks like a gallon of ice cream, a bottle of wine, or a shopping spree this is a conditioned behavior from your childhood that has been passed down from generation to generation. Almost like it was bred into you that you did not face distress, you swept it under the rug and did what you had to stop the pain.
Ø IDENTIFY AND DESCRIBE OUR EMOTIONS: There is a way for each of us to regulate emotions and reduce vulnerability we just have to be determined. Realize wallowing and ruminating don’t serve you. All we have is the here and now. Emotions can be either reaction to events in the environment or things inside a person. These events and things are called prompting events, they prompt and call forth the emotion. You will want to use beautifully descriptive words and back them with what drives them. Then take a look at how you interpret events. Most events outside of ourselves don’t prompt emotion, it is the interpretation of the event that prompts the emotion.
Ø OBSERVE AND VISUALIZE LETTING GO: Letting go of emotional suffering associated with negative emotions is not the same thing as letting go of the emotions themselves. However, letting go of the suffering is a process we can learn. This does not mean pushing away or sitting on the emotions. The emotions are valid and represent experiences and interactions that were or are painful. What we’re talking about is dealing with these emotions in a new way that will relieve some of the sufferings that go with them. The ‘observe and describe’ skills are effective here because this is how we learn to get some distance from our emotions, by standing back and observing them. If we can get distance, we can see them more clearly.
Ø REGULATE YOUR EMOTIONS: By looking at your emotions you are exposing yourself to them. You are looking to describe them, not necessarily act on them, and certainly not allowing yourself to be swallowed by or overwhelmed by them. Remember that you are not your emotion. Remember that you do not necessarily have to act on your emotion. Practice loving your emotions and remind yourself that you are a courageous person for doing this work.
Let’s focus on reducing our vulnerability. If we are feeling sick, hungry, tired, under the influence of, aren’t getting much physical activity, or aren’t doing something in our days that gives us a sense of mastery or accomplishment, we are most likely to vulnerable to negative emotions. We are more apt to experience or see negative more than the positive and be less able to handle situations and interact with our intuitive wise minds.
Your challenge is to stop right here and engage in a reflective review of what you have learned so far. Observe where you want to make effective adjustments. Note where you want to focus your work. Don’t be afraid to dig in, be transparent with yourself, determine what you aspire to achieve, and focus so you can attain with maintainability.
Watch for our new 3-part series coming soon! Jump in and grab our 30-day Intentional Journal as your workbook and take this time to make use of the 5-Day Breathe Book to prepare your mindset. To make your investment now and stay up to date on all things Turning Leaves Recovery, visit our site and take a look at our shop!
Remember, it’s always time to turn a new leaf!