RVL meets reality – Mindfulness, Crisis prevention and tossing away old baggage Part 2.

When emotions take over…

Written and Presented by
Tim

DISCLAIMER – PLEASE READ

Ladies and gentlemen, readers, I write this as a presentation to make suggestions for people who need to get a little self-wellness into their sphere. I need to make it absolutely clear that I am NOT a medical professional, I am NOT a Psychiatric professional or a Crisis Counselor.

I AM a survivor and this material is material I have found that works for me. Doesn’t mean it’s going to work for you but then again, it just might.

The information I contain in here is NOT something I just made up on the spur of the moment, it is carefully sourced from relevant and reliable sources, HOWEVER, it is NOT meant, nor intended, to replace or discount proper care and attention from qualified medical/psychological/psychiatric professionals. If you are in trouble PLEASE SEEK HELP IMMEDIATELY, DON”T WAIT. Contact your nearest Crisis Line, Doctor or Healthcare Centre. DON’T TRY AND GO IT ALONE…

That being said, I offer the following for your consideration.

Img. source: www.linkedin.com

Img. source: www.linkedin.com

A big part of stress relief, and a big part of being able to employ mindfulness, is learning to let go of the things that are troubling you and the things that trouble us the most create strong emotions within ourselves. They create negative emotions, emotional states that are unhealthy and which drive many people to extremes of behavior or action. By learning to control, and master, these negative emotions we can become calmer, less stressed and worried and more easily capable of dealing with whatever situation we might be facing.

Emotions are a complex state of feeling that results in physical and psychological changes that influence our behavior. The physiology of emotion is closely linked to arousal of the nervous system with various states and strengths of arousal relating, apparently, to particular emotions. Emotion is also linked to behavioral tendency.” [1]
Emotions are created by a great number of things, physiological, psychophysiological and sociological amongst others and while we may need assistance, or intervention, to cope with things such as biological levels of dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin etc. even when biological influences are present cognition still plays a major role in emotional control.

The process of regulating emotions is very complex and involves four stages:

Internal feeling states (i.e. the subjective experience of emotion)
Emotion-related cognitions (e.g. thought reactions to a situation)
Emotion-related physiological processes (e.g. heart rate, hormonal, or other physiological reactions)
Emotion-related behavior (e.g. actions or facial expressions related to emotion).” [2]
For example, let’s say that you, dear reader, as a modern human living vampire, are confronted by someone who insists on telling you that you are delusional, irrational, a ‘wannabe’ or a ‘RPGer’ what comes to mind? What’s the most common emotional response? Irritation? Annoyance? Anger? – “How dare this miserable little creep tell me what I am and am not…”

I would suggest ‘anger’, either small or short lived or burning and livid, either way it is a destructive emotion FOR YOU, not them. In essence by being a prize A-hole this person has taken control of you, has pushed your buttons and has you reacting according to their whims and prejudices. How do you feel afterwards, after the event? Deflated? Still angry? Weary? – All negative states of being.

Img. source: gizmag.com

Img. source: gizmag.com

In the movie ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ T.E. Lawrence (Peter O’Toole) demonstrates a trick involving a lit match in front of two NCO’s in a bar. One of the NCO’s, William Potter (Harry Fowler) tries the trick and exclaims, “Oww, that bleedin’ well ‘urt…!” To which Lawrence responds, “Of course it hurt, the trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurt.

Not minding that it hurt… hmmm

In the text Skills Training Manual for Treating Borderline Personality Disorder, Marsha Linehan sets out a table of points to employ when confronting emotions.

The first thing is to Observe the emotion, note it’s presence, step back from it, separate your conscious thoughts from the emotion.

Allow yourself, once separated, to experience the emotion as a wave, coming and going. Don’t force yourself to block it, don’t force yourself to suppress it, and don’t battle with it trying to get rid of it or push it away. Don’t try to keep hold of it, hold on to it and don’t amplify it.

Remember this, she advises, “You are not your emotion.

Don’t necessarily act on your emotion and let your conscious mind recall times when you have felt different, better and more positive.

Practice ‘loving’ your emotion. Don’t judge it, practice the willingness to accept that the emotion is not you and then accept that the emotion is happening.

Exercise conscious control over the emotion.
There are going to be times when negative emotions are going to seem overwhelming and insurmountable and no matter what anyone says, uncontrollable. This is characterized as a “crisis” and this is where we step into the realm of ‘Crisis Survival Strategies’ which I will cover in Part 3.

Img. source: startupist.com

Img. source: startupist.com

The Emotions

There are 8 “primary” emotions, which are:
Anger, Sorrow, Joy, Fear, Disgust, Guilt/Shame, Interest/Curiosity and Surprise.

You are born with these emotions “wired” into the brain and all other emotions are comprised of different combinations of these 8. Sometimes, for example, we experience secondary emotions, or “emotional” reactions to emotions such as feeling shame when you get angry or out of control angry, feeling fear when you get angry or, vice versa. When the secondary emotion occurs the key to dealing with it is to determine what the primary emotion is and deal with the situation on that level.
Conditional emotional responses” (CERs) are learned emotional reactions like anxiety or happiness that occur as a response to predictive cues. Most American psychologists use the -ed form of the word, calling CERs “conditioned emotional responses.” [3]

There are certain steps that can be taken in order to regulate emotion and emotional responses pointed out by Linehan (1993)

Treat PhysicaL illness – Balance Eating – Avoid mood altering drugs (illicit) – Balance Sleep –
Get Exercise – Build your MASTERy – Remembered by the phrase PLEASE MASTER.

That is to say, Take care of your body, don’t eat too much or too little, stay off non-prescribed drugs, try to get the amount of sleep that helps you feel well, do some sort of exercise and try to build up to 20 minutes of vigorous exercise per day and finally, “Master” – try to do one thing a day that makes you feel “in control”.

'Emotions' by Tamilia - fibrotv.com

‘Emotions’ by Tamilia – fibrotv.com

Supporting study
In a study published in Psychological Science (a journal of the Association for Psychological Science) Psychological scientist Susan Charles of the University of California, Irvine and colleagues conducted inquiries in order to answer a long-standing question: Do daily emotional experiences add up to make the straw that breaks the camel’s back, or do these experiences make us stronger and provide an inoculation against later distress?

Using data from two national surveys, the researchers examined the relationship between daily negative emotions and mental health outcomes ten years later. According to Charles and her colleagues, “these findings show that mental health outcomes aren’t only affected by major life events — they also bear the impact of seemingly minor emotional experiences.” [4]

Learning to relax
There are several simple methods that you can employ in building mastery over any given emotion/ response situation, learning to relax can help you stay in control. You may have a meditational practice that you can employ, if not here is a simple one.

Find a quiet place, sit or lie down after loosening any restrictive clothing. Close your eyes and take slow, deep breaths – a good method can be found in the breathing exercise discussed in Part 1 of this presentation.

Concentrate your thoughts on a single object, word or calming image/thought and if your thoughts wander to something else guide them back to the relaxing thought you are focusing on. Try this for ten to fifteen minutes until you feel relaxed and refreshed.

Another method, and one that I employ especially when it’s time to sleep, is Progressive Muscle Relaxation. Again, loosening all restrictive clothing, sit or lie down comfortably. Tense the muscles in your feet, hold that for about 5-10 seconds then relax them for 20 seconds. Tense/relax the muscles in the neck for the same lengths of time, move on to the shoulders, hands, arms, chest, stomach, belly, lower back, thighs, calves etc.

A third technique, and a pleasant one indeed, is visualization. Sitting or lying comfortably again, imagine a pleasant and peaceful scene of your favourite place, or what would be your ideal place to be, it may be in the mountains, a lush forest, a tropical beach, or wherever. Focus on the scene feeling the sensations as if you were actually there. After about 10 – 15 minutes gently let yourself drift back into the present and its surroundings.
Controlled relaxation can help you not to react, or over-react, to situations that promote stress and/or negative (knee jerk) reactions to any given situation, it can help you feel calmer, more in control and less ‘scattered’ – more up to the demanding task of coping with negative situations or emotions.

Conclusion
In the modern (mundane) world there are protocols for meetings, discussions and debates – the meetings are ‘chaired’ and the focus is maintained by a (good) meeting chair person. There are certain “niceties” observed in the inter-reactions between the people present at these meetings. In general these observances are governed by workplace protocols and legislation. In the OVC there is very little of this and the discussions tend, in a great many instances, to follow a “stone in the pond” pattern.

A “normal” pattern of general and open discussion for those in the OVC can be seen below;

OVC_discussion_model

In considerations of this problem it has been said that the VC/OVC is simply a microcosm of society and the reason we notice it so much is that we are speaking of a fairly finite; and relatively small, population encompassing the same motivations, the same emotions and the same problems as the wider society in which we live. The truth is that with a little effort aimed at self-development and the mastery of emotion control, we can overcome these barriers and conduct ourselves, personally, on a higher level of cooperative thinking. We can learn to relax, to listen to our emotions but not use them, to ‘discuss’ things at a more reasonable, calm and productive level but this all depends on the improvement of each person involved.

To be continued…

Copyright RVL & TB 2015

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotion
2. Siegler, Robert (2006). How Children Develop, Exploring Child Develop Student Media Tool Kit & Scientific American Reader to Accompany How Children Develop. New York: Worth Publishers. ISBN 071676
3. http://www.intropsych.com/ – Dr. Dewey
4. S. T. Charles, J. R. Piazza, J. Mogle, M. J. Sliwinski, D. M. Almeida. The Wear and Tear of Daily Stressors on Mental Health. Psychological Science, 2013; DOI: 10.1177/0956797612462222

Other resources:
Emotions – An important part of life.

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