Whether we like it or not, we are all grieving.
Grieving not just for the loss of lives around the world. Grieving not just for the loss of jobs and seeing the people around us be impacted, but grieving for the loss of structure, freedom, interaction and a life we once knew. What makes it worse is the feeling that there seems to be nothing we can do about the situation. Everywhere we turn, the situation seems dire.
During this covid-19 period, as news and government measures hit us wave after wave, businesses, people and families scramble to react and adjust accordingly. So much has gone into the doing that we barely had time to sit with the festering emotions that have till now been left unaddressed. All this while, these emotions might be taking a shape of its own, rising like darkness to overwhelm us, magnifying negativity and choking us in fear and anxiety. When we finally have a chance to check in, we might not be prepared to cope with the rush of emotions.
Some of us might be confronting such emotions for the first time, not necessary those of our own, but that of others. Worse still, the demands are all pouring in at the same time. You’ve only just walked a slope, but suddenly you have to scale a mountain. There is pressure mounting all around, as you struggle to cope with your emotions, the emotions of your love ones, and the emotions of the people you report to and of those who report to you. You feel torn and on the brink of despair. You cannot just direct emotions to stop flowing. What can you do?
COPING WITH EMOTIONS
Take in deep breaths to calm your senses. Breathing is a great way to regulate your emotions, and it gives you sufficient time to get past system 1 thinking to system 2 thinking – the logical part of the brain that rationalises with self awareness and control. This enables you to take a step back to begin to process all the emotional data that you observe from yourself and others.
2. Understand & Acknowledge the Emotion
Having conversations when emotions are heated is like entering a minefield amidst a war of words. Proceed gingerly. A wrong footing would spark off an explosion. What is best to do at this point is to gently identify the hidden mines. In other words, you need to understand the emotion and acknowledge it. Whether it is your own emotion or that of another, this enables one to feel understood. Think of this as the key step to defuse the mine. You can think about how the mine got there and what to do with the mine after, but the first step is to defuse it.
Being a bomb disposal technician in this case is akin to being an emotion detective who puts the pieces of the emotion puzzle together. You don’t cut any wires but you identify the ‘wires’ and you form connections to enable the emotion(s) to be processed. With tenderness, listen to what is being said and what is being unsaid, and identify sources of concerns. Take note of your observations and clarify the emotions. You would know that you have gotten it right when the weight of the world seems to have been lifted off and replaced with gratitude.
3. Define the Desired Outcome
Here is when you can begin to explore how the mine got activated and what can be done to dispose of it. Every unpleasant emotion has an underlying unaddressed need. Find out what is missing and what it will take to feel better in the current situation.Probe further, but with sensitivity, and the response is likely to reveal the desired outcome. If you know what you/they are looking for, you no longer have to second-guess and know the next course of action.
4. Explore the Possibilities
Just as there are many ways to skin a cat, there are many ways to achieve an ideal outcome. Explore the pros and cons of each option and, all things considered, identify one that would work best.
5. Get into Action
Our emotions tell us something. When we can decipher it, we can be more empowered to put the control back into our hands to take action and make a change for ourselves.
With these five steps, you are now more empowered to cope and support the emotions of yourself and others. Just a tip, handle one set of emotions at a time. It is always better to start off with your own, so that you calm yourself down first and ensure that you are in the right frame of mind before you open the doors to others. After all, your emotions can also impact others.
Everything is temporary. Emotions, thoughts, people and scenery. Do not become attached. Just flow with it. - Anonymous
Shamantha Yan is cofounder and an ICF Certified Coach and trainer of Growthbeans. She is also an Emotional Intelligence and Cultural Intelligence coach, Emergenetics and ACTA certified and a Reiki Practitioner. She is also Director of Savoir Asia Consulting Pte Ltd.