Monday, January 18, 2021

Are you in your right element?

When we are not in our right element or environment, we get stressed. Think, “fish out of water”. 

When stuck in this situation, some of us may have a tendency to:

1 blame our environment for the stress OR

2 blame ourselves 

Both can lead to a lot of problems, physically, emotionally, and socially. 

Like a fish out of water, we need to be in the right environment.  But to be in the right environment, we need to know who we are first.  

A significant part of counseling is to help people understand self, and to fully accept self.  To know one’s values and way of thinking, and those of others, and from there, find or create a life congruent with oneself and complementary to oneself. 

When one is in one’s element, we can help many others. When one’s needs are fully met, we can help many others. Similarly, we need to put on our oxygen mask first so that we can help many others.

The question is, are you in your right element?

Friday, January 15, 2021

Juggling between following our inner compass and the outer compass

Have you ever experienced inner conflict from doing something that would make others happy, but at the expense of our own principles and happiness?

So how can we process that emotion, and make a decision that we can be at peace with?

Decision making can depend on whether we want outer harmony or inner harmony.

It would be great if we can have both, but at times, we may have to choose one over the other, and then be at peace with that. This will require self awareness, acceptance, emotional literacy and emotional processing.

To achieve outer harmony, follow the values, feelings, or thinking of others.

To achieve inner harmony, follow your inner principles, feelings or values.

Juggling between these two domains is definitely no walk in the park, but it’s possible with a little bit of practice.  

Thursday, January 14, 2021

If we can’t recognize or process feelings well, don’t ignore it

Explaining concepts and ideas in analogies and metaphors, are a common practice in Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT).

I often explain to patients that “feelings” are information in the same way that sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste give us information. It gives us information, albeit much more abstract and “global” perhaps.  

If we can’t recognize and process our feelings, it will create problems, in the same way as if we can’t process our sight or hearing.  

We wouldn’t ignore our loss of sight or hearing would we?

The relationship between primary, secondary, and tertiary emotions

I often share with my patients the ideas and concepts around primary emotions, secondary emotions, and tertiary emotions.

The primary emotion of disconnectedness and loneliness can lead to a secondary emotion of fear/anxiety which then can lead to a tertiary emotion of anger/frustration/avoidance/withdrawal or distraction through food, smoke, alcohol, drugs, gambling etc. 

People tend to fix the problem at the tertiary and secondary level because these are what people can see, but it’s much more effective if one can fix it at the primary level.  Fix the relational issues. Fix the disconnectedness. Fix the loneliness, and many other health issues will be much easier to manage. 

Can you relate to the above?