The Art of Strengths Coaching

C is for Channelling Your Feelings By Being Creative rather than By Going Crazy    

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Some people live life on an emotional roller coaster. They care so much that they can get depressed about climate change, politics or other events.

Such compassion can be an asset, because it can spark people into action to help others. Sometimes can be a burden, however, because it can lead to feeling helpless.

People can choose how they use such feelings. They can focus on what they can control and do something creative. Or they can focus on what they can’t control and go crazy.

Some people respond to their darkest hours by aiming to give other people hope. Here are some examples.

Malala Yousafzai survived an attack on her life to work for female education and went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Jack Sim, who is happy to be known as Mr. Toilet, recognised the need for sustainable sanitation and founded the World Toilet Organization.

Ellen MacArthur, the round the world sailor, turned her concern about the environment into a practical approach called The Circular Economy.

Viktor Frankl survived the Holocaust camps and wrote the inspiring book Man’s Search For Meaning.

Penny Brohn used her own experience with cancer to help many people to feel more in charge of choosing their treatment and shaping their quality of life.  

Different people take this step in different ways. They all choose to follow the well known phrase that:

It is better to light the candle than to curse the darkness.

They may provide hope by encouraging others, writing a song, making a film, publishing a blog or providing practical tools that people can use to shape their future lives.

Looking back on your life, can you recall a time when you chose to take this route? What did you do to be creative rather than feel impotent and crazy? What happened as a result of taking these steps?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe a specific situation in the past when you channelled your feelings by being creative rather than by going crazy.

Describe the specific things you did to take these steps.

Describe the specific things that happened as a result of taking these steps.

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Different people choose different ways to deal with difficult feelings. Here are some steps you may wish to consider.

Choosing to put positive things – rather
than negative things – into your system

Everything is food. The things we encounter each day have the ability to affect our system. What we do about these experiences is, of course, up to us. Every day a person faces certain decisions. They can ask themselves:

“What are the kinds of experiences – the kinds of food – that I want to put into my system? How can I take in more positive things? How can I, when appropriate, avoid or deal with the negative things?”

How to take this step? One approach is to draw a map of the positive things you want to put into your system.

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Positive People

How can you spend more time with the people who give you positive energy? How can you share enjoyable times together? How can you encourage these Encouragers? How can you share adventures and develop your relationship?

How can you stop seeing any negative people? How can you, if necessary, give them positive suggestions about how you would like them to behave in the future? How can you move on if they refuse to change their behaviour?

Positive Energy Givers

Energy is life. If you wish, describe the things that give you positive energy in your personal and professional life. Here are some of the answers that people give to this question.

Positive Energy

The things that give me positive energy
in my personal and professional life are:

Being with our children … Talking with my partner … Walking for at least one hour a day … Listening to my favourite music … Working in the garden … Doing stimulating projects at work … Working with my favourite customers … Finding solutions to interesting challenges.

How can you do more of the things that give you such energy? What will be the benefits – both for you and other people? How can you make a habit of getting positive energy in the future?

Positive Experiences

What are the kinds of experiences that you find uplifting? Here are some of the answers given by other people.

Positive Experiences 

The kinds of experiences that I find uplifting are: 

Being close to water … Going to a art gallery … Going to see musicals … Cooking food … Seeing beautiful things … Mastering a skill I want to learn … Reading about people who have overcome adversity … Learning from peak performers.

Looking at your own list, how can you expose yourself to more of these experiences? What will be the benefits – both for yourself and other people?

Positive Models

People like to make sense of experience. Sometimes they do this by finding or creating a model that helps them: a) To clarify what is happening; b) To clarify a possible way forwards.

Many people have been helped to deal with setbacks, for example, by understanding the classic change curve. They see they are not alone in going through the stages of denial and hurt. They are then more able to move on to recovery.

People want to see a way forwards. So sometimes it can be helpful to find and use positive models that help you understand experiences. How to find such models?

One approach is to study people who have dealt with similar challenges successfully. What did they do right then? What were the principles they followed? How can you follow similar principles in your own way – plus maybe add other skills – to work towards achieving success.

Over the years you will also build up your repertoire of models for dealing with challenges. When appropriate, you can dip into this repertoire and apply the strategies and skills for achieving your goals.

Positive Solutions

People are uplifted by hearing about or finding solutions that provide practical hope. Today many social enterprises, for example, are tackling some of humanity’s most pressing problems.

These include organisations such as the Ashoka Organization, Acumen Fund, Skoll Foundation, Echoing Green, Schwab Foundation and Unreasonable Group. They are showing how people can use their talents to build a better world.

Solutions Journalism is also on the rise. This approach urges journalist to go beyond the old phrase: ‘If it bleeds, it leads.’ Some journalists are now going with the phrase: ‘If it succeeds, it leads.’

Here is an excerpt from the Solutions Journalism website. This differentiates between reporting good news and providing solutions. You can discover more via the following link.

http://solutionsjournalism.org

Good news stories focus on the vision, kindness or courage of someone doing something positive.  

A common approach is to profile a person who had a personal awakening (often preceded by a personal crisis) which prompted him or her to quit a stable job to launch a charitable effort in a village in, say, Namibia.

The person finds new meaning and, though living on a shoestring, usually talks about being happier and more fulfilled.  This kind of story can be heart warming and authentic, but is usually delivered without much critical analysis.  

Good news stories also rarely get people to think about systemic change. 

By contrast, solutions stories are driven by the problem solving – and rely on independent evidence to solve it. 

Like any good story, they have interesting characters, action and tension, but they are constructed more like puzzles or mysteries than profiles or descriptive pieces. 

The tension is not grounded in an argument, but in the inherent difficulty of changing a system or making an idea come to life.

If told well, what get’s revealed is often a little treasure of understanding – an insight about how the world works.

Positive Actions

People can often change the way they feel by changing the way they act. If they feel overcome by problems, they can do something that will encourage themselves or other people. This often helps them to feel better.

People know how to make themselves feel good. They can choose to follow their values, build on their strengths, encourage other people, eat healthy food, get enough sleep, exercise and be creative.

People also know how to make themselves feel bad. They can choose to neglect their health, have a negative attitude and develop a victim mentality.

Feeling, talking and doing are connected. So where can you intervene in the circle?

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Some people, for example, love to talk about how bad they feel. Sometimes the best way to change a feeling, however, is by doing something different.

Reflecting is vital, but then comes the crunch. Some people substitute talking for action. They may find that their analysis leads to a downwards spiral. They may say, for example:

“Why can’t I do something? Before I move forward, I must understand the barriers stopping me.”

If they feel overcome by problems, however, there is a quick way to change that feeling. They can do something that will encourage themselves or other people. This often helps them to feel better.

Feeling, talking and doing are all important. If somebody wants to feel differently quickly, however, they can do this by behaving differently. People choose what they do and, in this way, they often choose their feelings.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to describe the specific things you can do to increase the chance of helping both yourself and other people to feel good.

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Choosing to control how
you channel your feelings

People are emotional beings. Sometimes we feel up, sometimes we feel down. How we choose to express these feelings can help or hurt other people.

Bearing this in mind, how can we channel our feelings in a positive way? One approach is to start by being calm and remembering the old rule that: “Concentration can shape our feelings. What we concentrate on, we become.”

If we focus on positive solutions, for example, we are more likely to become positive. If we only focus on negative things, we are more likely to become negative.

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“That sounds fine,” somebody may say, “but sometimes I feel so deeply about something that the emotion overwhelms me. It is then hard to do something positive.”

People can sometimes get thrown off course when they almost care too much. Their emotions take over and they fail to deliver the goods. They may become paralysed by empathy, overcome by sorrow, obsessed by winning a prize or whatever.

Great workers manage to channel such emotions. They may feel passionately about encouraging people, playing a sport, healing the planet or whatever.

They often perform best, however, when they are calm and controlled. They are then more able to clarify the key strategies for going forwards. Doing the right things in the right way increases the chances of achieving the goals.

Different people use different techniques to stay calm and buy time in challenging situations. You will have your own approach to taking this step.

Don Greene is somebody who helps people to perform when feeling pressure. A deeply compassionate person, his work embodies the qualities of profound simplicity.

Many people will have heard about techniques such as centering, deep breathing and following positive scripting. Don provides many practical tools that people can use to put these ideas into action in real life situations. They can then build on these to achieve peak performance.

You can discover more about his work with performing artists, athletes and other people at the following website.

http://dongreene.com/live/

The hardest part for a person can be to develop a technique for staying calm. Once they know how to buy time – rather than just react without thinking – they can then choose to channel their feelings in a positive way.

Looking back on your own life, can you think of a time when you took these steps in your own way? You may have experienced a shock, had a setback or whatever.

You may not have been calm straight way. In fact, you may have felt frenzied for a time. After awhile, however, you were able to stay calm and see things in perspective. You then chose how you wanted to move forward.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe a specific situation when – at a certain point – you were able to be calm, buy time and choose to channel your feelings in a positive way.

Describe the specific things you did – the principles you followed – to take these steps.

Describe the specific things you can do to follow these principles in the future.

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Choosing to channel your feelings by
being creative rather than by going crazy

People can be strongly affected by their environment. As mentioned earlier, everything is food. So what to do if you are affected adversely by the surroundings around you?

One person explained their approach in the following way.

“My style is to bounce back from setbacks, but sometimes it takes me time to deal with negative emotions.

“One pattern I have is to get depressed during the political election campaigns. I find myself worrying about the constant attacks on people and whether or not the next leader will help or hurt the planet.

“After a time, however, I focus on what I can control in my own environment. Sometimes I read the headlines on websites, but do not delve deeply into the twists and turns of the campaign.

“I do my best to encourage the people around me and also aim to build a stimulating culture at work. This involves leading a good team and helping people to develop satisfying careers. I also act as an advisor to a social enterprise.

“Certainly there is more I could do. So I am exploring other ways I can encourage both present and future generations.”

Different people choose different ways to channel their feeling into being creative. Bill Drayton, for example, started the remarkable Ashoka Organization.

Ashoka is a pioneering organisation that supports social entrepreneurs across the world. These entrepreneurs aim to improve the quality of people’s lives.

They may focus on education, medical care, agriculture, housing, broadcasting or any field of human need. Such people have the passion and practical skills to translate their vision into reality. You can discover more about their work via the following link.

https://www.ashoka.org/

The organisation is named after the Emperor Ashoka. He was a leader who threw himself into redemptive acts that transformed the Indian sub-continent in the 3rd Century BC.

The young Emperor initially waged war against his neighbours, but he became horrified by the carnage. Converting to Buddhism, he dedicated himself to improving the quality of people’s lives.

Deeply committed to his own beliefs, Ashoka nevertheless spread religious tolerance. Historians are split over the value of his legacy, but all agree that his reign produced great prosperity. H.G. Wells wrote the following piece in his book Short History of the World.

“Amidst the tens of thousands of names of monarchs that crowd the columns of history the name of Ashoka shines, and shines almost alone.

“His reign for eight-and-twenty years was one of the brightest interludes in the troubled history of mankind.

“He organised a great digging of wells in India and the planting of trees for shade. He founded hospitals and public gardens and gardens for the growing of medicinal herbs.

“He created a ministry for the care of the aborigines and subject races of India. He made provision for the education of women.

“Such was Ashoka, the greatest of kings. He was far in advance of his age.”

Let’s return to your own life and work. Can you think of a specific situation in the future when you may want to channel your feelings by being creative? This is an alternative to going crazy.

One approach is simply to show kindness each day. As Aldous Huxley said at the end of his life:

“It’s a little embarrassing that after 45 years of research and study, the best advice I can give people is to be a little kinder to each other.”

Building on this ethic, you may want to build on your strengths to do something creative. You may want to encourage a person, teach students, make a film, publish a blog that helps people or find some other way to pass on your knowledge.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe a specific situation the future when you may want to channel your feelings by being creative rather than by going crazy. 

Describe the specific things you can do to take these steps.

Describe the specific benefits – for both yourself and other people – of taking these steps.

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