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  • Writer's pictureAndi


As humans, we naturally experience emotions from elation to sadness. Our emotions can swing from moment to moment as life happens. It’s important that we acknowledge and experience our emotions with self-compassion and validation. But how do we put a value on an emotional experience? Let's set up a spectrum: 1 very sad --> 5 neutral --> 10 very happy and the values in-between are varying degrees of sadness and happiness.

Since emotions swing back and forth all the time, picture yourself on a swing, happy is forward and sadness is back. This is life! You can’t swing forward without a back swing. Sit with the forward swing and appreciate the moment for as long as it lasts knowing that it’s fleeting. Same goes for those back swings, sit with the emotion and allow it to work its way through your body so you can process and release it. Notice that we tend to cling longer to negative emotions, where happy emotions gently glide through us.

We think we want to be happy all the time, but if we don’t experience the emotional spectrum, we will take happiness for granted and life will become bland. On the East Coast we get so happy when it’s a 60-degree day in February but not so much in July. So how can we better manage our negative emotions? First take a moment to make sure your emotional spectrum is labeled correctly. List out what #1 would be for you. Then think of something that would make it worse. If you can’t think of anything else and no superficial happiness (like winning Lotto) will fix it, then that is your #1. For me, it’s the safety and health of my family. No matter what the sadness or frustration, I take a quick scan of my family. If all are healthy then everything else is higher than #1. Sometimes I automatically react to a back swing as if it’s my #1 but then pause to reflect against my spectrum. I realize that my frustration at work is a 4, and my three pound weight gain is a neutral 5, because it’s in my control.

For Parents: We tend to protect our children from the negative aspects of life. It’s important to allow children to experience the spectrum of emotions so they can have the full range of skills as adults. If you shield your child from emotions in the 1-4 range, then their emotional range will narrow down between 5-10 where 5 becomes their #1. Work with your children to set their full emotional spectrum with situational examples relevant to their age. Review the same process of asking them to list what would be worse than the #1 they provided. Make sure to validate their initial worst-case scenario and work through it, before you help them to reset their #1. Spectrums vary person to person and change during each stage of life.

If this resonates, and you feel you want a Do Over to reset your emotional spectrum, I am here to guide you.


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