The Upside of Negative Emotions


Presentation6.pptUpside of negative emotionsAdmit it!! You try to escape, or avoid negative emotions as soon as you experience any of these, right? It is no surprise. We’re programmed to do that one way or another. It’s painful to feel depressed, ashamed, anxious, guilty, and the host of other negative emotions. To many, these emotions convey weakness. We gravitate more towards positive emotions like joy, optimism, excitement, confidence, and other emotions that put us in a more upbeat mode. And we’re not to blame as these kinds of emotions don’t only feel good; they’re good for us. They propel us to achieve better results and have better life experiences, in general, all culminating in a more satisfying sense of well-being.

For years I trained myself to shift my negative states to more positive ones in attempts to practice and hone my emotional intelligence. I help my clients do the same, but only after exploring what these negative emotions are trying to tell them. While it is true that many people present to a professional needing relief after experiencing intense one or more negative emotion, little do they know that these negative emotions were – in the beginning – their allies. That same experience they complain from is actually directing them to grow somehow, to be different, to take action, or to understand what is going on. I must emphasize, here, that most negative emotions in their mild form have their upside. Taken to the extreme, they end up in the person being in what may seems like a quagmire of relentless agony.  What I will brief, next, is mainly based on scientific research.

Take, for instance, stress. We’re often warned that stress is the enemy. In its extreme, I won’t deny that it is highly correlated with a host of physical and psychological problems. What many don’t know, though, is that moderate stress is actually good for you. It builds you up with arousal to rise to the challenge, unleashes your creativity, gives your life meaning, and strengthens your psychobiological resilience. Think of “Post Traumatic Growth” which people experience after a stressful experience. Not only do people report that such times stretch their coping muscles, it also changes them to the better in ways they never considered before. They start viewing life matters in a totally new perspective.

Anxiety, too, has its upside. If it weren’t for anxious people forecasting a problematic future in some ways, many discoveries wouldn’t have been brought to life. Anxious people are important for the human race. They care enough, too, not to engage in risky behavior because they can foretell negative consequences. They are, also, appreciated more by their friends and acquaintances because they are more considerate than others. Some anxiety provides you with enough bodily arousal to manage important tasks (e.g. a presentation, or an exam). Without such alertness, perhaps things are taken lightly and performance remains below desired standards. Anxiety can equip you with plan “A”, “B”, “C”, etc… all part of being a bit pessimistic in case thing go wrong, so you’re often more ready than an optimistic anxiety-free person. It is true, though, that sometimes anxiety can be too intense and chronic; thus, hampers both wellbeing and daily functioning.

Even depression is frowned on, when research suggests that mood dips enhance cognitive functioning. Rumination is a way to solve problems and dig deep for answers. People become more detail oriented in such states and don’t miss out on information like happier counterparts would. If you have a project you’d like to undertake, consult with a depressed friend on their opinion. They’d surely help you uncover everything that could go wrong with it. Besides, low mood helps you communicate your feelings better (you’ve thought about things like a million times already and things are clearer by the time you open up).

What about anger? That emotion gives you power and can be used as a strategy to get what you want. In most instances, anger doesn’t escalate to aggression (so that’s good). It directs to problem solving and provides a lot of insight on important matters. Unexpressed anger, turns inward and leads to depression and other health-related issues. Anger masks a host of other negative emotions and tells you which of your values are being violated. When you express anger, you’d be giving the relationship with the other person more guidelines on what is possible and what is not. Beware of anger becoming a communication pattern and a personality style, as then it would convey only lack of control over ones’ responses.

Guilt plays a beautiful function too. It makes you rectify or make amends when you do others wrong. It’s your moral compass especially for conscientious folks. Consider those who commit felonies without any guilt. If guilt was not there to warn the culprit, bad deeds would continue. Can you imagine, then, the kind of world we’d be living in? When you feel guilty, you’re keeping your morals in check alright. Sometimes guilt hovers unnecessarily over one’s psyche and it is totally unwarranted, so we need to make a distinction here on when it is truly valid.

Remorse, similarly happens “after the fact” and makes you a wiser person for similar situations (which may never come), but at least, you can offer others sound advice based on first hand experiences. Regret helps you mature into becoming a wiser person who’s more careful and slower in important decision making; and who takes into account prior life lessons. When you ask yourself “what can I learn here?”, you’re making good use of remorse.

When we consider jealousy, what a motivator this emotion is to be a better version of yourself despite its negative connotation. Jealousy of others who are inspiring raises the bar for you to work harder. It is admiration that makes some people strive to reach similar levels for things that they value. Even moderate romantic jealousy tells the other person they’re important. When couples don’t experience jealousy, sometimes it is not interpreted as trusting too much, but, rather, as having no basis for caring at all….

The list can go on and on for the upside of other negative emotions. They’re important to make the human experience more whole. The light is appreciated more after the darkness. The same goes for positive and negative emotions. The trick is to make sure the experience remains in the milder zone and never to allow it to become chronic or too intense. This can be done through attempts at regulating one’s emotions and interrupting them from escalating. In the end, sadness brings you peace; fear brings you confidence; anger brings you power; confusion brings you clarity; guilt makes you grow; and regret makes you wiser. Aren’t we better off befriending what we resist?

Your Personal Coach

Dania

EMDR: The Psychotherapy of the 21st Century!


Many of you have been hearing lately about EMDR as an approach to therapy, but perhaps most don’t know what it means, or exactly how it goes yet. EMDR is an abbreviation for “Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing”; and EMDR therapists are often fascinated by its wonders whether in speed of healing, or its long-term positive effects. Research after research keeps documenting how efficient EMDR is for a variety of psychological problems not restricted any longer to dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as when it was first introduced. EMDR combines components of many different other therapeutic approaches, but it’s most unique in working on a neurological level that is often felt directly by the recipient.

Most of us have experienced stressful life events, or have been traumatized one way or another. It could be witnessing war, physical or emotional abuse, illness, bullying, betrayal, accidents, or any other shocking or debilitating experience. And just like the natural healing mechanism that operates directly when we have a physical wound, we, also, have another healing mechanism that runs the same for psychological wounds. It all starts in our brain as I will shortly brief. Take for instance the sudden death of a loved one. At first, it would be dreadful and unbearable, but with time, we gradually start recovering and eventually we accept the loss (or maybe not). They say “time heals”, but in reality, it is our brain’s diligent effort trying to make sense of what happened that helps you heal with time.

One theory explaining how EMDR works is mimicking what happens as we sleep at night during REM sleep (which is Rapid Eye Movement – one of the stages of sleep) in which our eyes start moving rapidly from side to side continuously for some time. We go through this phase maybe 5 times if we slept 7 to 8 hours. During REM sleep, our brain is very active, but we have sleep paralysis and we can’t move. Apparently, this is the time at night when our brains process information, consolidate our memories, try to find solutions for our problem, etc…. For overwhelming experiences (& perhaps just like some machines), our brains can get jammed unable to work properly. Consequently, the stressful event continues to have a negative impact on us in different ways. It becomes like heavy baggage we carry on our shoulders too much to bare affecting our daily living. It’s like there’s an ongoing alarm system put on whenever that event is remembered. It could, also be triggered by anything that resembles it, or is related to it.

Take a moment to think of a really bad memory……

Be with it for a moment ….. Scan how it makes you feel in your body ….

If that memory still triggers a disturbing physical sensation in your body, then this is how you know it’s not resolved yet. It is not healed. If it doesn’t have any physical traces, then that’s great! Your brain has successfully processed it. Now take a moment to think back of the best memory you’ve had in your entire life before you continue reading (I don’t want you to stay stuck in traumatic material).

The body keeps score so it’s been said. These negative memories if not processed right, remain stored in their raw form (just as things first happened). They were not integrated with more empowering memories in the brain’s memory network, so continue to feel disturbing in our system. When the stressful event first happens, it creates a negative belief, or a negative evaluation of the self like for instance “I’m not safe” for someone assaulted, or “I’m not good enough” for someone bullied. This negative belief lingers on with that memory handicapping the person from progressing in their life in a healthy way. You can’t do well in life if deep inside you had a negative self-view.

A therapist trained in EMDR helps the recipient unload such baggage by resolving these stressful memories one at a time. The recipient is asked to focus on the traumatic memory with all its related components (image, negative belief, emotions, and sensations) and then follow the therapist’s fingers moving the eyes from side to side for like half a minute only to report briefly the changes experienced. It’s like nudging the brain to start working on the memory to heal it. The process of bilateral brain stimulation repeats until the person is no longer bothered physically by the memory. This is when we know the memory is processed and there’s a shift into more positive thinking about what happened. New learning emerges that strengthens a more positive belief system as it connects with existing more empowering memories. It’s worth mentioning that eye movement isn’t the only means to kick start the brain to heal from the memory’s emotional impact. EMDR therapists are using auditory and kinesthetic bilateral brain stimulation to get that same effect.

In EMDR, a therapist doesn’t ask “what’s wrong with you?”; rather “what happened to you?” The client may want to deal with one presenting problem, or many. Each problem has its history in life events that happened at some point. There are many ways to dig for these, link and lump them together in themes, and resolve these according to the client’s priorities. There’s focus on healing the past; eliminating the effects of present triggers; and preparing the client with better capabilities to handle the future. When we think about what people usually struggle with (like depression, anxiety, panic attacks, phobias, self-esteem issues, relationship problems, etc…), all usually result from upsetting life experiences. A comprehensive work when doing EMDR to resolve all these usually leaves clients feeling transformed into a better more empowered version of themselves.

A word of caution: It is very important to seek a well-trained EMDR therapist if ever you consider dealing with your problems using EMDR. EMDR cannot be learned in a day or two course (although such courses are sometimes on offer purely for financial gain). Qualified therapists undergo a period that could span a year and a half. The training moves them into more advanced levels as they get supervision by EMDR consultants to fine tune their skills. EMDR is not a technique that psychologists, or non-psychologists can easily use. Because we do not know what each person can hide, repressed traumas can emerge during the process that only experienced clinical psychologists would be well equipped to handle. It is advised, therefore, to be in safer hands if ever you want to deal with your baggage.


Time For Your “Mind Gym” – What Are You Certain About?


I’m certainly not a big fan of “Black or White Thinking” although I find myself prey to such dichotomy at times; and in certain respects. To me, we cannot fully understand life matters despite so many “givens” and no matter how hard we try to analyze their prevailing effects. So many things out here exist in shades of gray; and we, human beings, are certainly very complex.

Take, for instance, our need for certainty. It conflicts with our opposing need for uncertainty. The first gives us assurance and steady grounds to move in strides. The second equips us with the thrill of anticipation and the zeal to resist destructive high tides. We’re quick to form judgments so as to gain a sense of relief, but we, also, seek the unknown for the excitement it hides beneath.

Such bipolarity can shape one’s behavior and character wherever we end up on that continuum. We can resist shifting our preferred set point and strive always to restore any disequilibrium. It’s as if we put ourselves a set of rules and arm our mindsets with the necessary tools to make it through prevalent challenges existing in over a million.

I have my own set of certain facts I believe in; and these bring me the sense of relief I need. If you work on accepting these as few of your life rules, they’ll bring you the same comforting effects indeed. These are in line with the “Black or White Thinking” type of guide for me. You’ll find my top 10 dictums below and I’m sure you’ll agree:

1. Life is neither easy, nor is it simple. To make it manageable and more enjoyable remains a choice to repeatedly kindle.
2. We cannot change others unless they’re willing to. Even when they are, we can only influence how they feel, or inspire what they do.
3. Our bodies depreciate with use and time. They’re the only place during our lives in which we’ll, surely, reside.
4. Happiness is a temporary state and we slide between the good times, the bad, and maybe worse. True strength lies in fast forwarding negative emotions and the good feelings to nourish and nurse.
5. We’re operating within limited time and energy constraints. We cannot possibly add more to what we already do without sacrificing doing others, or suffering more restraints.
6. We are social beings in need of maintaining healthy relationships. We get frustrated with one-sided effort when we try hard; and look instead for ones that offer a reciprocal mix.
7. We can invest in projects, or in people and then fail, but investing in ourselves and in our continuous education will always somehow reap gains.
8. Holding on to faith remains the best torchlight guiding our incomplete understanding. It remains the colorful perception as we reach dark deadlocks in problem solving.
9. We won’t find anything more valuable than time, nor can we buy any of it to satisfy doing everything we need. Life, surely, is passing by at a dizzying speed.
10. Our eternal search remains for love’s alchemy. Its absence creates all sorts of malady; and once found, is the all too healing remedy.

During my days, I frequently have to remind myself of these few life facts I grew to accept and be certain about. There’s no point in resisting some life rules, and surely you have more in your own certainty account. In many other respects, I remain within gray areas filled with doubt. In the school of life, we’re all still learning what we can be sure of or not…. In time, we will all be granted a black-belt in overcoming life’s difficulties if we keep giving it our best shot…

That’s another fact I’d like to add on the list above…

Across these posts, I send you positive vibes and much love …

Your Personal Coach

Dania

Time For Your “Mind Gym” – How “Mindful” Are you?


mindfulness

Have you noticed the pitfalls of our continuous attention divide? Like that ride to any destination during which you fail to notice how many trees line up on the side? You can ask your friend how they’re doing without actually hearing the distress they hide; and you can read these words oblivious to where inherent messages between the lines reside.

Perhaps to be completely observant of everything all the time is against our human nature. We come equipped with an auto-pilot, luckily, to preserve our mental energy from further labor. Over-reliance on this internal automated-like machine, though, could put us at great danger.

Imagine the overflow of information into your brain each day and how thoughts eventually get jammed in your mind. Are you aware of how such clutter affects all ensuing emotions and how consequently your inner state gets defined?

When was the last time you sat there doing absolutely nothing and just remained still? When did you last attempt to just be all alone with yourself not to watch a movie, or finish a chore, or to get immersed in thought, but to act as an observer, as if from a distance, to the way you’re breathing, to your thoughts that are fleeting, or to the sensations you are feeling?

Perhaps you never attempted doing that before, but being mindful of what’s going on in the moment, and when practiced continuously, has psychological and physiological benefits that you’ll reap enormously.

“A cameraman captures what the regular eye cannot perceive. Why don’t you borrow that irregular lens, once in a while? Put a filter; Zoom in the focus; and examine without judgment what is it that you feel and believe.” ~3Ds

As you become mindful about the moment, remember this: A thought is just a thought. It doesn’t have to be real, nor does it have to define you. Any negative feeling you’re experiencing will ultimately on its own subdue. Other feelings will over-ride it sometimes out of the blue.

Just observe and dismiss any logical interpretation. It is the meaning we give to that we perceive that may spiral negative emotional activation. Just notice; Then let go of it without further contemplation…

During mindful moments, you’re no longer all of you. You become an observer totally accepting and aware of whatever you’re going through.

How about we ask for an upgrade to VIP seats now? We’ll watch the other “you” performing and then bow in awe.

Oh, and is skipping popcorn, this time, something you’d allow? 🙂

Your Personal Coach

Dania

Time For Your “Mind Gym” – How “Happy” Will You Make The Coming Year?


wishes for new yearHow many times have you heard the words “happy New Year” lately? Plenty of times, I bet. It’s become like people’s favorite automated expression at the cutoff point of a fresh new year. All attempt to portray what’s coming more brightly.

I’ve heard some people whining about the past year saying it was a horrible one; and they’re wondering whether coming times will be better, or not. They evaluate the year based on horrific events that perhaps negatively impacted their lives a whole lot. Others were more grateful for dominant pleasant occasions; and, for the New Year, have aligned similar expectations. Some minority remained ambivalent to the calendar change as indicative of any potential variations.

“Happy New Year” is, by no means, an empty phrase. We’re generally biased, I believe, to hope for the better days, to surpass any adverse craze, and to find happiness in different ways.

365 new days will constitute the continuation of your biography and are lining up for you in the unseen. We can safely call it all the year 2015. You can accept an extension of what you’ve already experienced so far, or rock the boat and innovate new days like you’ve never before seen.

Whatever your choice is, please remember that our built-in human nature is one designed to eventually conquer any turbulence. Perhaps hard times are part of living and do cause major disturbance, but none of us has the desire to remain long in guttered times. On the contrary, we’re always longing for happiness; and actively search for its permanence.

Keeping that in mind, “For the new year, it is not enough to wish for happier times. The deeper wish is to break free of any happiness confines.” ~ 3Ds

We may be starting off the New Year with certain limitations, but should we allow these to cause continuous frustrations? How determined are you to actually notice and create happier days and other thrilling celebrations?

I, personally, wish you’d remain dreaming bigger, laughing louder, loving deeper, standing taller, bouncing back from setbacks stronger, and moving in STRIDES happily longer…

Say “I” if you’re all in favor!!!

With Your Personal Coach

          Dania

Time For Your “Mind Gym” – How Well Have You Fulfilled Last Year’s Self-Promises?


new year wishes

It gives me the chills when I consider that this is my last post for this year. Oh boy, time flew by real fast; and to realize that there are things pending still on my 2014 to-do-list makes me almost shed a tear. How did that happen when I know and practice what I preach about principals of high productivity? How is it possible to be so clear about my yearly resolutions and still fail to perform despite my relentless activity?

At this moment in time, I empathize with myself just like I do with my clients. I certainly was not “wasting” time. That’s more like pseudo-science. Urgent situations came up and necessitated my dealing with rising tension. New opportunities surfaced and required my attention. Some projects were too overwhelming, so I deferred some and put others to suspension.

No, I wasn’t slacking off during the past year. I was, rather, engaged in re-shuffling my priorities based on situational pressing demands. At different times, I found myself exploring novel life territories and adapting to unknown lands.

Yes, I did my best to accommodate without totally losing focus of my principal mission. I truly did maintain an eye on my guiding life vision. Yearly new resolutions are ideal when coupled with a clear plan to accomplish and move toward; and it’s perfectly okay to continuously consider their feasibility, be flexible with some, forget about others, and add a few new with greater reward. Can you similarly assess how much on that to-do-list you’ve scored?

My earlier plans were not meant to be engraved in stone. We have to keep in mind that a martyr cannot do much in a combat zone. It’s like we’re in a battle field out there and we need to remain vigilant to any upcoming rival; and in the end, allow no defeat to be ever final. Adjust the sails when the wind blows; slow down the wheels upon surfing the slopes; and fly higher when the sky is clear and before it, again, heavily snows.

At the verge of a new year, I cannot but give thanks and acknowledgement to how far I have, till now, reached. I would like to silence my inner critic for a while and resist the temptation to self-reprimand. These only leave me painfully impeached.

In my last note for this year, I am calling your attention to differentiate between excuses you may have for leaving things undone and truly exploring reasons for things you haven’t begun. I, hereby, call on you to focus NOT on the losses of the past year, but on all the gains you’ve gradually acquired my dear…

Next year will similarly be like a game of hide and seek. The good and the bad things will remain to bubble and squeak. And aren’t those what flavor life with its special mystique?

Wishing you a new year filled with earned success and best of fortune…

Your Personal Coach (who favors forward motion)

Dania

Time For Your “Mind Gym” – How Heavy is Your Emotional Baggage?


baggage

How old are you? Better phrased: how “young”, still, are you? Perhaps as you revisit the number of years that so far elapsed, the thought spontaneously scans phases in your life you passed through. Each chapter in your journey piled up a different sort of baggage when you take on a rear view.

Have you, at any point, taken the time to examine that? Are you aware of the extent that baggage affects your life today, how you deal with others, and what you arrived at? Some of us enjoy self-reflection and habitually monitor ourselves attempting to fine tune and understand. Others take it a step further and hire another brain to dig deeper and give them a hand.

In my line of work, I’ve seen many face their worst daemons courageously, while others went into such territories with much reluctance painfully. Others remain hiding themselves behind walls of shame and make believe that their baggage is invisible to the eyes. What do they know about harmful disguise? What do they know about volcanoes and their erupting with lava as they rise?

To become target of someone else’s baggage is certainly terrible and perhaps inevitable at different times. You’re lucky if you can withdraw yourself from their lives as soon as you detect over-flowing negative baggage signs. If you don’t, you’ll soon realize how chained you’re becoming as you operate within gloomy relational confines. To have your way out, by then, can be really difficult sometimes.

But what if that emotional baggage is all yours and you keep noticing something isn’t just right? To know if you’re carrying a heavy load, just ask yourself: Are you being paranoid and suspecting? Do you repeatedly project your own insecurities onto others and assume it is them who are suffering? Do new people you meet keep reminding you of past hurtful ones? Are you avoiding relational commitments and are building walls against anyone who comes?

Such questions point toward issues, if any, that remain unresolved. You can look at these with a blind eye, turn to them the deaf ear, or wait for them to get gradually dissolved. Still, they have their own days during which they creep up in your life in multiple ways and at every passing phase.

“You may be victim of others’ emotional baggage at some point, but there’s no running away from your own. The longer you postpone facing these, the more, under your skin they’ll moan.” ~ 3Ds

That baggage anyone carries can be rendered much lighter once explored. You need to dig deep for buried emotions, discover what meaning you gave hurtful past incidents, and then reinvent a new version of yourself that you can gradually move toward.

Surely everyone has baggage, but it’s not your responsibility to manage others’ crown of thorns. You can only open your own can of worms, let all out, and be ready to face any ensuing storms. There’s got to be some labor before your life balanced and transforms. That’s the only way to make yourself better, or would you rather remain bitter?

It really is a matter of perception and how your brain searches for threats and automatically screams. Need another pair of eyes to help you see through that existing filter you have on your life screen?

I’ve walked in your shoes daily so far; and I’ll be ready when you are 🙂

Your Counselor (this time) & Personal Coach

Dania

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