Last week I introduced the 3 C's for better mental health.
1. Change your thoughts
2. Challange your feelings
3. Choose your behavior
On Monday of this week I talked a bit more in depth on the idea of changing our thoughts. This idea rests on the priniciple that not all of our thoughts are correct thoughts.
There are definite dysfunctional thinking patterns that many of us fall into. We need to continuously be aware of them and when we find ourselves thinking wrong/dysfunctional thoughts we need to work on changing them to more healthy and correct thinking patterns.
Today I want to talk more in depth on the concept of the second C: Challenging your Feelings.
I believe that this concept will hit home a bit harder for some of you.
As a general rule we live in a society that is enslaved to their emotions. By this I mean that in many situations when we feel a strong emotion we react to it. This behavior often leads to poor choices which translates into poor behavior.
Being an emotional reactor in some ways is the easier way to live. We feel something; we react to it.
When we step back and look at this dynamic with a wider lense we can see that in the long run this is a much more difficult way to live.
Emotionally reacting to the happenings around us leave us feeling strung out and exhausted. It leaves us as individuals being run by fear, anger, and the pursuit of happiness.
I have found that many times when my clients express a certain strong emotion it is helpful for them if I challeng that emotion and ask if that is an appropriate emotion for the situation.
Here is an example. I like to hunt and I have traveled to the U.P. of Michigan. I have hunted in remote places where one can litterally walk for a couple days through the woods and not find civilization.
One my first excursion to the U.P. I got turned around in the woods. When I realized what was happening I felt a strong emotion of fear and panic!
I believe that in that situation it was an appropriate emotion. Certainly not a helpful emotion but for someone who had never been lost it was appropriate.
If I were to take that same emotion and translate it to where I currently live and hunt it would be an inappropriate emotion.
Because where I currently live and hunt is a more densly populated area where I shouldn't be able to walk more than 15 minutes without crossing a road or walking by a house.
It does not good for us to ask whether the emotion we are feeling is real. Of course it is real; we are feeling it.
But rather asking if it is appropriate to the situation is much more helpful.
We do not need to be slaves to how we feel. The next time you are experiencing a strong emotion that is screaming for action try to ask yourself. Is what I am feeling appropriate.
At the very least it may be helpful to go back and look at a situation where you reacted to a strong emotion and ask yourself was the emotion I was feeling at the moment appropriate.
Give it a try; you may be surprised by your response.