Emotional resilience for uncertain times

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Just checking in to see how you’re doing?

Often when we’re asked this question we respond with:

  • “I’m ok” or
  • “I’m fine” or
  • “I’m great” or if we’re willing to admit it….
  • “I’m not great”

Whilst these are all reasonable conversational responses, they’re not really useful as they don’t represent what’s really going on for us (as this great image from Liz Clemo shows).

We’re now four weeks into quarantine and I wondered what word you would use to describe how you feel at the moment?

Not only is it useful to share this with others so that we know that we’re not alone in how this situation is impacting us, but emotional literacy is a useful strategy too.

I’ve been telling myself that I feel a bit ‘meh’ recently- but that’s not really helpful. ‘Meh’ doesn’t really explain how I’m feeling and kind of hides my true experience. And emotions are there to be listened to and understood. 

Emotional literacy is the ability to understand and express our feelings. And emotional granularity – the ability to really get specific in how we’re feeling – is a really useful skill to develop. It helps us differentiate between our feelings.

Am I feeling frustrated? Or is this irritation? Or am I angry? 

That ability to fine tune into our emotions gives us more power to understand and manage them.

I’ve attached the feelings wheel that I use with my clients and it comes from my training with PSI Services LLC . I’m an accredited practitioner of their emotional intelligence assessment tool.

Where are you sitting on the wheel as you read this?

This emotional awareness is more important than ever in the current COVID-19 situation. We’re likely going to be feeling a rollercoaster of emotions and emotional literacy can help us ride that roller coaster with more ease. And it also helps us bring the best version of ourselves to the situation regardless of how difficult those feelings might be.

This is also especially important if we’re a manager or leader. If we’re checking in with our team members over the coming weeks are we accepting the conversational response of “I’m ok” or “I’m fine”? What can we do to support our colleagues and loved one express their true feelings if that’s useful.

Even if you’ve not been comfortable doing this before, now is the time to build the capacity to dig beneath the surface. Because by doing so we’re not only helping them to navigate this situation but we’re also helping them develop their emotional resilience.

I’m using the feelings wheel with my 7 year old son as a check-in. It serves three important purposes:

  • It’s helping him develop his own self-awareness – developing his ability to tune in and differentiate his emotions
  • It’s supporting him in developing his emotional vocabulary
  • It’s helping me in understanding what’s going on for him – I can often assume he’s really resilient (which he is) but may not be aware of when he’s ‘acting out’ that there’s an emotional need that’s not being met

Feel free to use the feelings wheel to prompt some self reflection or a conversation with a colleague or loved one. And if you’re willing to share I’d love to hear how you’re doing – just drop me an email.

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