We are at the last quarter of 2020. A virus changed our lives, like forever. We are all accepting, learning and moving forward. As we do so, some conversations need to be reiterated. I was invited to give a talk to the PG Science Students at Mount Carmel College last Friday. The topic was Emotional Balancing. We had about 350 participants.
What do you tell a group of young adults who are grappling with the isolation and lack of space, the uncertainty of what next, the self-doubts and the rigor of online classes and exams.
Emotional Balance is an eternal quest and there are 3 steps to understand it. How are we understanding and managing our emotions, how are we understanding and managing our stress and how are we working towards that balance.
Emotions and me
These are moments when many of us feel on the edge, and every small experience is like a rollercoaster ride of uncertainty and chaos. What is important is to acknowledge how are we exactly feeling at this moment and time. A bit of reflection and honest conversation goes a long way. It is important to understand that emotions are complex and come in multiple hues, as demonstrated by the Wheel of Emotions (Robert Plutchik). Is my joy an experience of serenity or ecstasy? Is my sadness an expression of grief or pensiveness? If my fear about my apprehensions and my anger about my deep-seated rage? We need to ask ourselves these questions.
The participants were asked how were they currently feeling and the survey asked them to choose amongst the 8 primary emotions (they could choose 3 emotions). Over 270 participants responded on the live poll and we see while many felt happy at that moment, they also experienced anger, sadness, fear and anger. This was just to drive home the point that at a single point we could also be feeling multiple emotions.
We have to try and own our emotions, understand that they are subjective by nature and while we experience emotions, our body also reacts to those emotions, at a physical level; and each of us behave differently, even though we may be experiencing the same emotion. So, someone who is happy could be smiling and dancing and another just enjoying the moment; someone who is dejected could be weeping and another could be quiet and not talking. This awareness of emotions at both individual and social level is important. We can express empathy when we understand emotions of the self and others.
Stress- what, why and how?
The feeling of anxiety and not being in control, feeling that this pandemic is never ending. Having self-doubt, feeling apprehensive about every little decision to be taken. When we are stressed, our window of tolerance reduces. We may choose to fight or run, we want to hide ourselves; and before we know it affects us emotionally and physically. The participants were asked what is stressing them out the most at present and over 225 participants responded to the live poll. The results show that while the ambiguity and the stress of online classes took the coveted crown, the feeling of constantly being judged and criticised featured as a stressor, along with being cooped up at home and the inability to meet friends. This is a wake-up call for many of us who teach and live with young adults. They are in a fragile space and need our support the most at this point. We need to step up and be empathetic to them, help them meander this difficult path.
While acceptance of the stress experienced is key, it is also essential to seek help and also to reach out to friends and family.
Self and Balance
From acceptance of our emotions to our experience of stress, we then need to ‘Focus on self’, breakdown the situation, be kind to ourselves and be less critical of every thought and action we take. We can take the analogy of the Golden Circle by Simon Sinek to explain this quest for balance. Ask ourselves the 3 questions and find the answers.
· What is it that you want? - Being able to handle emotions
· How can you do it? - Focus on self, be kind to self, prioritise self
· Why do you need to do it? - Emotional Balance. To feel confident. You can do this and even if you take time or can’t at the first go, it is fine.
And finally, reward yourself for every moment of perseverance, create your Pebble Jar of Resilience.
Kindness starts with self and self-affirmations. So, while we meet the world, let us first greet ourselves with gratitude and begin that journey on our quest to emotional balance.
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