Good emotional self-care brings about what I call ‘The Hydrangea Effect.’ Hydrangeas change their colours when you change their soil. Pink blossoms become blue when you put aluminium sulfate in the soil. The acidity of the soil dramatically changes the colour of the hydrangeas.
When you put the right ingredients into the soil of your heart, you change the colour of your world of emotions. You can be the emotionally healthy and intelligent person. You don’t have to alienate yourself and you don’t have to be an emotional wreck.
Emotions are beautiful like the blues and pinks of the hydrangeas. It’s great to feel happy, loved and surprised! To be in touch with your emotions is to be human. But perhaps you have been taught that feelings are unreliable and therefore not to be trusted. And you disallow yourself to feel deeply and miss out on the greater meaning of life. You can change the way you approach emotions particularly those of anger, sadness and fear; you can bring colour to your world.
- READ YOUR EMOTIONS
All emotions have a message. An event or certain people could have evoked that emotion. You can read your emotions by describing the event.
Emotions Describing the event
Happy I am happy that you came and spent time with us.
Love I cook a good meal for my children.
Surprise I am surprised that I enjoyed that movie.
Emotions in your thoughts
Your emotion has a thought attached to it. Your thoughts determine the quality of your emotion.
Thinking well of the guest that visited you makes you happy. Thoughts of cooking a nutritious meal for your children make you feel like a loving parent. The idea that you can be touched by a movie that you are open to gives you a greater thrill. These thoughts give rise to the emotions of happiness, love and surprise.
However if you think badly of events in your life, you can feel badly towards them. These are like scripts in your head for example, “The guest was all out to take advantage of my hospitality”, “the children are so demanding and want to be fed often”, “ I never like true story movies and will definitely not enjoy them.” Thinking like this might make you feel angry, resentful and closed up.
Imagine your emotional world if you allow negative thoughts to occupy it most of the time:
“I am a mistake and a burden.”
“I am worthless and only feel Ok when I am approved by some people.”
“I don’t have the right to enjoy myself or to say what I think.”
“My value is based on my intelligence and education and not for who I am.”
Emotions on your face
Your face is the quickest place to reflect your emotions. The Bible in Proverbs 15:13 writes, “A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed.” If you want news of the heart, ask the face. Happy heart, happy face!
When you are happy, your happy hormones or endorphins are activated and your face lights up. When you smile or laugh, others will join you as you mirror one another’s behaviour. Behaviour is contagious! And your face is the most accessible mirror of your emotions.
Sometimes a confusing signal is sent in the face. You are happy but you don’t want to show it evidently for a myriad of reasons. The recent Volkswagen advertisement showed a boy who had an ecstatic experience in a Volkswagen but he wanted to be cool and didn’t want to reveal his true feelings. He put on an ‘It’s ok’ face. In a sense, this is not being honest in your emotions. Emotional dishonesty can have low risk, medium risk and high risk effects.
A public speaker said something I found amusing, “My face is not so loving. Don’t worry. It’s only a face. I am still working at it.” Work we must at our face, at our thoughts – not just reading the emotions but also in REGULATING them.
- REGULATE YOUR EMOTIONS
Your emotions need to be regulated so that they can operate properly. When emotions are well-regulated, you sleep deeper, you socialise better, you think and feel fresher.
Change your thoughts
You can change your thoughts about events and people so that your emotions are more controlled.
You may be angry at a person because of your angry thoughts about him for example, “ I am so angry that the husband behaves so badly towards his wife.” Rather than letting your blood pressure go up by this observation, get another perspective. Tell yourself that you don’t have the full picture of this couple; you don’t know them enough to get so uptight. Many things in life can trigger anger in you. You need to get better in seeing new and peaceful perspectives
When you felt embarrassed about your skiing skills, rather than keep comparing yourself with others and feeling miserable, think of more constructive ways to improve yourself – take up skiing lessons, tell yourself you are only having fun and you are not taking skiing as a serious sport, stop looking at others and downplaying yourself etc.
A big part of the brain is designed to deal with the regulation of emotions. The limbic system releases hormones to stimulate or inhibit your emotions; it draws from your long term memory to help you deal with the present emotion and then form new memories with it.
Change your input
Download good scripts into your brain so that your limbic system can churn out good feelings and store positive memories. Affirm yourself,
“I regard myself highly and respectfully despite my imperfections.”
“It’s good that I exist”
“ God loves me and has an unique plan for me”
“I can be confident, secure and joyful.”
Say it as you believe it. You are putting good nutrients in the soil of your heart. And look out for the Hydrangea Effect!