Author: Ines Marinho
Let’s go back to the times when the adults of nowadays went to school and had all those mandatory courses throughout, at least, 18 years od their lives. Education starts at home, it is a fact and continues to kindergarten, primary school and so on.
However, if people stop to think for a while and ask themselves when or at what point someone taught them to deal with their emotions the answer might be not found. In the educational systems, there is no such thing as helping children, future grown-ups, dealing with life, emotions or failure.
Individuals keep on being educated to success and to only accept this faith. The truth is, success is a result of many failures and, going through the process of failing can be overwhelming and hard to deal with for many human beings. No judgments on that.
Raising self-awareness and developing resilience skills have become the biggest purpose of psychologists, hypnotists, and neuroscientists of the present society. The more people understand themselves from a positive perspective, the greater sense of well-being as they face emotional struggles will happen.
Self-awareness usually focuses on five determined domains: Sensations, Thoughts, Emotions, Actions, and Mentalization (STEAM). Let’s take a look at how to approach and demystify these concepts.
- Sensations – What do you sense in your body and mind?
Being self-aware includes awareness of your body and mind. When life tends to knock you down for multiple reasons, which will certainly will at some point, because imperfection is what dictates the human condition, you might notice some common symptoms all over your body. Your muscles can be tense, your stomach is churning and you have a general feeling of heaviness in your body. As you start to pay attention to these sensations, you may also notice that it opens you to a greater awareness of inner experiences, like your emotions.
How do you feel towards a certain situation? What does that situation provoke in your brain?
- Thoughts – What are your thoughts?
When facing overwhelming problems, people naturally try to close and protect themselves. Sometimes, or most of the time, active minds go into hyper-drive with their thoughts racing nonstop. Overthinking prevents people from clearly reflecting on the issues with a cold and distant approach. For example, people have a tendency to believe their mistakes at work are proof of them as a failure, not putting it in the context of their multiple successes.
By consciously observing your thoughts, you get the ability to reflect on them with an impartial view. Like this, you can recognize irrational fear and anger-based thoughts that inflate a small issue.
- Emotions – What are you feeling?
Once you recognize what your emotions are, ‘sit with them’. Don’t run away from them, instead embrace them to understand them. Gently ask yourself, what are you feeling. Be sensitive to your level of distress. If you are overwhelmed, you might need to work through this a bit more before approaching your emotions.
Take as many breaks as necessary to heal and distract yourself, re-focusing on your emotions later. Along the way, share your emotions with a good friend of yours or search for some medical help, like a psychologist. Break the taboo that searching help is for weak people. It isn’t. People who learn to acknowledge and tolerate their roller-coaster of emotions become able to go through them without being devastated.
- Actions – What are your actions and reactions?
Being resilient requires that you act in ways that enable you to create a path out of difficult circumstances and on to a better one. It is essential that you observe your actions and reactions. Consider the effect they might be having on you.
For instance, if you respond with intense anger to small situations, such as your partner or family member telling you, he or she will be taking a job in another country, that might be an indicator you need to work on a deeper level throughout your emotions. Besides, if you act like that towards people, you might be able to lose either your rationality or the people you love.
However, if your response is moderated, showing happiness for their future and sadness of missing them, the two of you might still work on something to keep the relationship healthy.
- Mentalizing – Do you understand what is going on with you and the others?
Mentalizing is a term that means understanding in your mind and connecting that understand to your heart what is motivating you or someone else. When you learn how to mentalize and establish connections between your rational thinking and emotions, you can empathize better and have more compassion for yourself and others.
This compassionate self-awareness can improve your ability to help yourself get through difficult times. You will have a better time seeing your problems clear and figuring out what you need to overcome. Mentalizing yourself that feeling and allowing you to feel is part of the process of healing and dealing with this these STEAM concepts might be an important step to your life.
When life kicks you out, it isn’t about the fall but how you decide to get up and react. Thinking about a practical example in life, let’s take a look at sports players. Every time a team or a long shot MVP NBA player loses a game, they need to either get up and try to recover it or giving up on trying.
Life is not a game you will only ‘play’ alone. There are more people in the same shoes as you, that lose their strength and hopes when life is harsher. Nevertheless, the fall may be deep, but the rise doesn’t need to be painful or an alone path.
Be always kind to yourself, to allow you to fail, to make mistakes and to make the turn to a better path. In a world where failure seems not acceptable, it is, in fact, one of the most beautiful things that can happen. Why? It means you are alive, and you are trying.