Emotional Wellness Pillar
This week we are focusing on the Emotional Wellness Pillar. Now having a strong pillar in this area does not mean you are Pollyanna, skipping around with a grin on your face in trendy rose tinted glasses - no no no!
We are all human and a critical part of this is our beautiful complex and changing emotions. Firstly, and something that should never, ever, ever be forgotten, there is no such thing as a good or bad emotion. We all like to label things as good or bad but with emotions that is neither helpful or desirable.
Stress continually gets a bad label tagged to it but this isn't always the case - imagine the outcome if you didn't feel stress coming across a lion with nothing to protect you!
Stress helps keeps you focused when there is the risk of danger. On the flip side if your body is under a constant state of stress, your health will suffer. So stop trying to box each emotion as good or bad, rather become aware of the emotion you are feeling.
I recently completed an emotional intelligence course with Dr Paul Wood (www.switchconsulting.co.nz) and one of the exercises he encourages every participant to do is grow their emotional vocabulary. What learn some words you say? Doesn't sound like that would make any difference to my emotional wellness! As with all great exercises the benefit comes in the doing.
Think of when you feel like you are being attacked by someone (a partner, a boss, a friend). Inside your head you would be saying "It's not fair they are attacking me" Think about how you feel when you are being attacked. We all become defensive, guards go up, tolerance disappears and our motivation tanks. Now change the word attacked to challenged - "It's not fair they are challenging me". Now how do you feel? More than likely it will be along the lines of right, I'll show them, I can do this, I'll rise to the challenge!
The reality of the situation hasn't changed at all - but our perception of that reality has - and the difference that that can make is amazing. Perception is what we believe to be true and remember, there are three versions of the truth - your truth, my truth and the actual truth.
You know when your emotional pillar is strong as you will be resilient and able to "bounce" back from adversity - you will no longer get stuck in the quick sand of self pity. You will recognise that you have the ability to choose your reaction to any situation.
My Aha moment came for me in an exercise where we explored what our behaviour traits are when we feel stressed (the stress where you have had adrenaline course through your veins for too long, you're tired verging on exhausted, and you feel like things are happening to you - ie out of control). This, Dr Wood, calls "the small me" - that's the version of yourself that comes out when you've been stuck in traffic and need to be somewhere else 20 minutes ago.
For me it's the version that becomes agreeable, an avoider and the victim. This small me was created for very valid reasons in the beginning - its just that those reasons are probably no longer valid, and that "small me" is no longer serving a positive purpose. Time to focus on the "Big Me". That's the version of you that you want other people to see, that's the version of you that you want your kids/partner/friends to admire. That's the version of you where you want to spend most of your time.
This weeks challenge
If your emotional pillar is a bit weak, this is going to take time. Like building any muscle in our bodies, or building any knowledge in our brains, it takes time and practice, practice, practice. Be kind to yourself.
Spend some time naming what you are feeling and try to build a new word each day to describe it - are you feeling happy or is it more generous, fantastic, elated, enriched, centred....... you get what I mean.
Take an emotional intelligence assessment - Harvard University have gathered four of their favourites here. The majority are free and give you a good baseline from which to improve from.
Start a journal - sometimes we have so many things racing through our brains we don't know where to start. Julia Cameron inspired me with her The Artists Way and morning pages - its something I really recommend.
In the wise words of the Dalai Lama
"the aim is not to be better than the other man, but your previous self"