Somehow I Manage, Vol. 5

And we’re back! Hopefully on time this week. Thank mother of god I’m armed with a cup of tea this week. You really tend to take things for granted when they’re always there, right on your doorstep. You get used to them. You begin to appreciate it less and less as time goes on. It’s good to have that thing or person who has always been there taken away for awhile. You garner a certain amount of appreciation for things once they disappear. You miss it. All the good times that you simply took as the norm, seem to suddenly come in a sudden wave back to you. You ask yourself why is it not there anymore. I should have appreciated it while it was there. Luckily for me it was only milk. And it reappeared once I had finished my blog for the week which was great. But not everything reappears. Not every person reappears. So do your best to appreciate what you have. ‘You never know what you’ve got till it’s gone’ – Ye. And it’s true. I appreciate this cup of tea so much more than usual now since I forgone having milk in my tea. So do myself and yourself a favour today, tomorrow, or whenever you read this, take a little time to appreciate something that you take for granted. Whether that’s a person, a bed, your cup of tea, having hot water, anything. Because I guarantee you, someone else in the world doesn’t have it, and would kill to be in your position to have what you have. Be grateful, be appreciative, be happy. For me, for over two years, it was my happiness. I was always happy, and then all of a sudden, I lost it, I couldn’t experience it. It was the worst period of my life. I would have done anything to get my happiness back, and for so long it never came back. I’m happy once again, granted not always happy, but nobody is always happy. If we were never unhappy, then we could never experience happiness. I lost my happiness, something I never truly appreciated, and since I’ve gotten it back, it’s all the sweeter and I appreciate it so much more! So be appreciative, it’ll make your life and you happier.

I’ve actually gone to get my second cup of tea after writing the first part. Why not embrace milk returning back into my life. Back to To Build a Home by The Cinematic Orchestra for the motivational tunes. And I’m looking forward to this weeks skill. It links in last week post about Labelling Emotions. It’s something that has worked for me hugely while I’m trying to get out of a low mood on my bad days. A lot of the time, I do it and I don’t notice the change till I’ve finished and then I can be back to me if I do it right and it’s great. It doesn’t always work first time but keep on trying and hopefully it’ll get you there.

OPPOSITE ACTION

So last week we went through the way all emotions function to communicate to others, to validate our experiences and to motivate our actions. So we went through the fact that all emotions have an action urge, that’s associated with the emotion. We often experience an urge to act in a certain way when we experience an action. So that may be anger being linked with attacking, sadness being linked with withdrawing, fear with avoiding and joy with do more of what you’re doing.

 

Sometimes it’s good to act in line with the action urge of an emotion. Other times it can have negative affects.

What is opposite action?

Opposite action is basically a skill we use when we want to reduce the intensity of the emotion we are feeling, or create a different emotion. Through doing this we can reduce the likelihood that we will follow the urge associate with the emotion.

The idea behind opposite actions is not to block or suppress emotions, but to reduce the emotional suffering that comes from acting in line with our action urges.

When should I use opposite action?

Opposite action is a skill that you can use in the following situations:

  1. When you decide that the emotion you are feeling, or the intensity of an emotion is unwarranted in the moment?
    So basically something happens, and you may get angry, and you have a right to be angry, but the level of anger you reach exceeds the level of anger you reach. Or when something happens and you should feel sad, but you feel guilty or angry.
  2. When you decide that following the emotion’s urge would be unhelpful for you.

In order to figure out whether you are in either of these situations, you will have to use labelling emotions that we went through last week.(It should be on the website on the side, or you can just search for it on the website if you need to refresh your brain).

So you can use labelling emotions to identify

  • the emotion that you are feeling
  • the urge associated with the emotion

One you have identified the emotion and its urge, ask yourself

  • Do I think that this emotion is warranted or justified in this present moment? Or, is it possible that thoughts about the past, future, or other issues in the present are influencing what I am feeling, or the intensity of what I am feeling?
  • Would it be helpful or effective for me to follow this urge?

If the answer is ‘no’ to either of these questions, then opposite action is a skill we can use, because it helps us to:

  • reduce the intensity of the emotion we are feeling, and make space for other emotions
  • reduce the likelihood that we will follow an unhelpful action urge

How do I use opposite action?

To use opposite action, we try to act opposite to the following aspects of an emotion(use labelling emotions to identify these aspects)

  1. Trigger
  2. Interpretations/thoughts
  3. Emotion
  4. Physical changesĀ -temperature, breathing, posture, facial expression, muscle tone, gestures, voice tone
  5. Action Urge

The trigger for the emotion is not in bold because in opposite action, we are not trying to change the trigger for the emotion, we are trying to change how we feel.

The emotion is not highlighted because it is very difficult to simply imagine a different emotion that we want to feel. However, through opposite action on the other aspects of an emotion in bold above, we can bring a change in the intensity of the emotion we’re feeling, and we can make space for a new, more manageable emotion.

It is important with opposite action that we fully commit to the opposite action, do it whole heartedly, with enthusiasm. Give it a bit of welly!

It is also important that we monitor the effects of the opposite action on our emotions.

 

How does opposite action work?

Opposite action is a strategy that works at a physical level. Opposite actions literally send a message to the brain that the old emotions aren’t appreciated or appropriate. The idea is not to suppress or deny emotions, but to slowly and subtly change them.

It is important to note that:

  1. You have to do opposite action with the same intensity as you would have given to the original action urge
  2. If we decide not to use opposite action but instead to act in line with the emotions’ urge, remember that his action needs to be consistent with living and building skills to support this

 

For me, it’s mainly when I don’t want to get out of bed in the morning, or in the afternoon or evening depending on what time I went to sleep at and my current mental state. A lot of the time I want to stay in the warmth of my quilt. I don’t want to get out of bed. I just want to sleep my day away. But then, I use opposite action and almost pretend to be an american football player, and literally with every ounce of being I have hurtle my legs over the edge of the bed, jump up and run to the shower(usually with one good jump to get the full effect of opposite action) and have a fast and productive shower and try and keep that going when I’m drying and changing myself. It tends to work a charm.
Or when I’m not in the best mood, I can tell, my shoulders will be slouched, I’ll have my head hanging down a little bit, thinking every single movement is too much effort. And I notice this, and then usually I’ll put on an upbeat song, my song of choice for this is Can’t stop the feeling by JT, but whatever floats your boat. If it’s in my kitchen or at home then I’ll dance around giving it socks and usually by the end of it then I’ll be in relatively good form. If it’s in college I’ll usually just put more of a strut in my step and throw my shoulders back, head up and sing along in my head and it helps.

Pay attention to your body language, even if you begin to see your mood dropping, or even if you want a bit of a pick me up. Straighten up your back, lift up that chin, smile a bit, and walk with purpose, it doesn’t sound like much but it’ll help.

Here’s a link to last week’s blog about labelling emotions to help you use the skill. And as always, keep trying it and trying it. Nobody gets it perfect first time, and you’ve nothing to lose from trying to use the skill.

Have a good Sunday,
Finn.