June 16th, 2024

All Psyched Up: Dealing with problems

By Medicine Hat News on August 3, 2018.

One of my clients recently taught me a formula that she learned years ago from a therapist she was seeing at the time. It has been helpful for her when it comes to problem-solving. We don’t know its origin so can’t give credit to the one who created it, but I thought I would share it with you so that you can also benefit.

1. Naming — Be very clear about the feelings that you have. Are you feeling angry? Sad? Guilty? It can be confusing if you are used to “pretending” that you are happy but feeling something else. In a recent interview Prince Harry told about how he would say “fine” when people asked him how he was feeling rather than being honest after the loss of his mother. He said that now he is more aware of his feelings and able to express himself better. An example he used was to say, “My heart is pounding, and my stomach is a little tight but otherwise I am fine.”

2. Claiming — Feelings are your own and you need to accept the fact that other people did not create them. You choose to feel guilty. You choose to be angry. Your reactions are yours. We cannot choose what happens to us, but we definitely can choose our reaction to what happens. If you are angry, admit it! You don’t need to yell or use abusive words but with practice you will be able to communicate your mood appropriately to others.

3. No blaming — Taking responsibility for your feelings is an important part of being mature. It is not the fault of other people that you are feeling guilty. Blaming other people for your feelings is a form of deflecting. Targeting the other person rather than dealing with your feelings in a healthy manner doesn’t resolve anything.

4. Taming — The intensity of feelings can be very uncomfortable. It is important to not let your actions be fueled by them. My mother, who was a Grade 2 teacher, used to tell us to “Count to 10 before you say anything you might regret.” Sometimes you might have to count to 20! There are many ways that you can deal with strong feelings. Try writing the situation down on paper. Then, on the back of the page, write options that you have for calming down. Taking a walk or talking with a good friend can help you to put things in perspective.

5. Rename them — Rather than repeatedly stating “I always have anxiety” perhaps you might say “I tend to be cautious about new situations.” Words like “devastated” and “overwhelmed” might be reworded as “I am very sad and would be grateful for some help with planning the funeral.” Throwing out catastrophic words can be dramatic but not clear for people who would like to help and need a little direction in that regard. If you focus on what you need rather than how you feel, you will have a better chance of seeing your mood improve.

Dr. Linda Hancock (www.LindaHancock.com) is the author of “Life is an adventureÉevery step of the way” and “Open for Business Success” is a Registered Psychologist who has a private practice in Medicine Hat. She can be reached at 403-529-6877 or through email office@drlindahancock.com

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