In a previous blog post, we learned how to use the Balanced Mind to bring balance to our Thinking Mind. In this post, we will learn how to use the Balanced Mind to bring balance to our Feeling Mind.
Do you sometimes feel like your emotions control you…more than you control them? It is normal for people who have been traumatized to experience intense emotions that seem to come out of nowhere. In fact, trauma survivors tend to experience five distinct patterns with their emotions.
First, you may have more negative emotions than others (such as more depression, more anxiety, or more anger). Second, your emotions might be more easily triggered. Third, your emotions may also tend to be more intense. Fourth, your emotions may take longer to return to their normal state. When you put all these patterns together, it’s no wonder that your emotions can seem so unpredictable and overwhelming. And that’s precisely why trauma survivors also experience a fifth trend: Doing anything it takes to numb out as many of these overwhelming emotions as possible!
But now do you see how we are back to the problem of extremes? What would we ever do without the Balanced Mind?
The good news is that DBT teaches some very practical tools for balancing your emotions by learning to manage them. Now notice that I did not say control: I said manage. Your emotions do not need to be controlled. In fact, trying to control your emotions will only make them feel even more unheard, unappreciated, and unrecognized…and then they will just have to scream even louder to get your attention!
Pretend each of your emotions is a different kind of flower. You wouldn’t try to control, coerce, or manipulate flowers, would you? But if you want this beautiful garden of flowers to flourish, you will certainly have to mange the garden. For example, you will need to plant the right seeds, check the soil, protect from predators…and remember to weed and fertilize!
In the next blog posts, you will learn 6 different strategies for learning to manage your garden of emotions.
Each of these strategies will help nurture your emotional flowers. But first, we’ll need to start with planting the garden!