Occasionally there are times when even seasoned role-models find themselves in the predicament where
what they really need is someone to help them make sense of their experiences and the fallout of the resulting (often very complex) emotions.
In the primary education system, children receive collective oversight from caretakers who are available to track and monitor their self regulation, social, and emotional literacy skills.
Children who display at-risk behaviors are provided free access to adults who are trained in crisis intervention, how to distinguish between cultural, special needs, emotional literacy indicators, and risk prevention strategies.
These mentors provide individualized education plan (or IEP) to provide students with access to the language to help them make sense of what they feel so that they can then identify which coping skills will help them attain the outcomes they will need to rebound when they encounter adverse experiences.
These interventions make a HUGE difference.
And given that emotional literacy skills are a relatively new concept in education, it’s no wonder that
the same kinds of adults who grew up only to mirror the reactive behaviors they saw modeled by their parents can’t have benign conversations about the color of Starbucks coffee cups during the holidays
— let alone a non-threatening discourse over how to manage equitable access to resources for things like healthcare, education, and basic infrastructural needs life food, housing, who gets access to nuclear codes, etc.
So let’s do a little bit of an exercise for a moment:
How are you feeling right now?
Did that last statement change the way you experienced this content? What did you notice about the sensations in your body?
Take a little moment to think about it for a moment.
There are lots of avenues you could take to cultivate your observational awareness incl.
- When was the last time you felt that particular emotion?
- Is it a feeling you experience often?
- What was your earliest memory of that emotion?
But we’re not going to dig too deep here.
It’s important to work with appropriate boundaries outside of a clinical setting.
We’re often forced into conversations that are poorly facilitated or just not appropriate for a trauma-informed discourse and may find ourselves juggling the emotional labor of placating others in order to appear palatable — in addition to managing our own reactions. When we’re blindsided with triggering information, we may not have the capacity to unpack or even identify all of the complex emotions we may experience.
We each have different thresholds for what we’re able and willing to tap into, and it’s generally not responsible to knowingly activate triggers without knowing that participants have the tools to respond with an appropriate coping mechanism.
Learning how to identify sensations and the language we need to communicate our boundaries and needs is one of the most liberating things we can do for ourselves and our interpersonal relationships.
What did you notice about this exercise?
Tell us about your experience in the comments section below: