December 2022 – Name it to tame it

Christmas is coming …. And it can be an emotional time for many people.  Emotions can be heightened in joy and togetherness as well as sadness, despair, loneliness and isolation.  This can all depend on how our relationships are running throughout the year.   Expectations at holiday time can be challenging to fulfill.

One of the strategies that we can employ with our emotions is to name it to tame it.   One of the most basic tools from the counsellors’ office is to acknowledge the experience of others.  We can learn how to acknowledge our own emotions by learning the vocabulary first. When we acknowledge our feelings, there is a deep sense of satisfaction as the emotions have done their job at communicating a perception.     Emotions are like a pressure release that get expressed in reaction to our thoughts to events that happen in our lives.  It can be quite challenging at times to understand our emotions.   Understanding our emotions can help to get ourselves regulated again.  By either expressing ourselves to others, or to ourselves, we can be understood if we have the right words.  

Plutchik’s word wheel can help us identify the 7 basic emotions humans feel, translated into more descriptive ways that identify the experience we are trying to describe inside our minds or to others.   The ability to express ourselves can go very far in our relationships with others and the self.   Naming our experience is part of our human experience.   Having the vocabulary to describe our experience helps us to acknowledge what is happening and allow ourselves to feel the satisfaction of the description.  

Clear communication goes a long way towards building and maintaining relationships with each other.    For example    “I am nervous about Christmas because I feel overwhelmed at the cost of everything.”  Saying this does not change the experience of rising costs, but naming it allows me to move to the next step which may be receiving support from others understanding and relating, as well as being able to problem solve what to do next.   When we keep things unnamed, they can play in our minds over and over without being able to move to the next step. 

The stresses and pressures of our changing daily lives can be a stretch to our windows of tolerance. Naming it to taming it is one way to help ourselves manage the stresses.    My hope for all of you is that this tool can be helpful in managing the stresses of the season.   It is human to feel our emotions, describing our experiences is a work in progress.   From everyone at Vancouver Island Counselling, we wish you a playful, thankful, loving, peaceful, contented, and accepted holiday time.