Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Emotional literacy around mindfulness

There’s is an important concept in emotional literacy that I would like to share. Hopefully it can help your patients.

If we see something through our visual sense, judge it, and when we judge, there’s an urge/compulsion to take action based on that judgement. If we act, it will give us a certain outcome. Sometimes it’s helpful, and sometimes, not so helpful.

This applies to our other senses too including hearing, smell, touch etc. Interestingly, this can apply to our “feelings” as well. We can certainly feel a certain way, judge it, and then have an urge/compulsion to take action based on the judgement of that feeling.

If we “prejudge” and go through this process too quickly, then it may manifest clinically as impulsivity, restlessness, and obsessive compulsive patterns which may lead to negative outcomes. We may act prematurely before having clarity.

In counseling, by framing it in this way, one can teach our patients to slow down the process, especially at the beginning when we receive the stimulus. It’s like prescribing nasal steroids to stop the histamine cascade at the beginning for hayfever prevention.

Once we take in or receive information through our 5senses or feelings, we have the option of not judging it by being present, mindful, defused, or “making room” for it. This allows us to continue with perceiving for clarity, before we judge and act on our perception too early, and get it wrong.

We can all appreciate this in our daily work with history taking. It’s also very important in our home life, especially in our relationships. We have all heard about the advice around listening to understand rather than listening to respond. This is based on the same principle.

So consider teaching our patients more mindfulness, being present, defusion, and expansion for this very purpose, in order to get better outcomes.

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