Last week I had the pleasure of sitting down and interviewing face-to-face (on Skype!), Hilary Jacobs Hendel, the author of It’s Not Always Depression; a very interesting book I had reviewed the week before about how we must listen to our core emotions and learn to not bury them.
In case you missed my review, I’ll just briefly explain: Hilary has adopted the method of ‘The Change Triangle’ where each corner of the triangle represents a different aspect of the mind: core emotions, inhibitory emotions and defences. Hilary uses this triangle to help people re-connect with their emotions rather than burying them – more will be explained below.
When I approached Hilary about doing the interview, she was immediately up for it. I was honestly so honoured she had agreed, so we set a date. However I explained to Hilary that I wasn’t really used to Skype interviews, having never done one before. I usually conduct all blogger interviews on here, via email, and the only other way I had done one was over the phone, and that was a good 5 years ago! I explained this to Hilary and she insisted she was the best person to start with, what with being a psychotherapist! I agreed as I believe you should always take up opportunities, even if they may scare you a little. And anyway, I felt strangely at ease with Hilary before I had even met her.
The time for the interview was nearing and surprisingly I wasn’t too nervous. I felt a tiny bit jittery but apart from that, I was good to go! Hilary greeted me warmly and decided to start off by going through some breathing exercises with me to help the anxiety. She explained that we needed to come to the present and just breathe. I instantly felt a lot calmer and so the interview began.
MIND OVER MATTER
We started off by taking about why people have lost that vital connection with their emotions. Hilary mentioned the ‘stiff upper lip’ culture that we have in the UK and US; we’re always trying to cover up our feelings by controlling them. This is a major problem.
Our core emotions, as Hilary explains are ‘hardwired, biological, in-born programs that have evolved over millions of years to help us survive’.
This survival instinct is still VERY strong within us. A good analogy that Hilary gave was that if a wild animal ran into your room right now, you would not stop and think about what to do next, you’d RUN. These are your core emotions working on your behalf.
‘Emotions just are’ – the most important thing that the change triangle teaches.
This makes total sense to me, as i’m sure it does to you. We cannot control our emotions as they are completely natural. They arise in situations in response to certain environmental elements, and the decision to use the emotion is not something we consciously decide. All we can do is decide how to manage and react once we’ve had the emotional feeling. Hilary states that it’s wrong to simply judge someone for having certain reactions as, like I said, it’s NATURAL. This was something that was hugely relieving for Hilary, which I can completely see why; once you realise this, it’s like your free to not worry about your emotions ever again.
EMOTIONS ARE PHYSICAL
The next thing which was very interesting to hear and something which I’d heard before during my own therapy sessions, is that emotions are physical. We’re often taught that emotions are ‘all in our heads’ and it’s simply not true. We FEEL them, therefore they’re physical.
ANXIETY IS JUST THE BEGINNING OF A STORY
Now, I suffer from anxiety in certain situations, as do a lot of people. Hilary explains that there’s always a reason for that anxiety and it always comes down to emotions; emotions that are overwhelming or conflicting that our brains have not yet had the chance to fully understand. This is where Hilary’s change triangle comes into play.
‘It’s not about wearing your emotions on your sleeve because sometimes it’s not always appropriate to show your emotions, for example, crying at work…It’s about bringing a balance between mind and emotion.’
As most anxiety, depression and OCD sufferers will know, our thoughts lie to us. When our thoughts lie to us, Hilary mentions that our emotions are ‘running the show’. We disconnect with ourselves which in turn inhibits us to fully connect with others. How can we expect to make these connections when we can’t connect with ourselves?
It’s pretty simple to use the change triangle. Hilary explains that when we have an emotion, we’ve got two choices:
1. Block them and move up the triangle, which is not a good thing as this will then bring inhibitory emotions such as anxiety.
2. Actually listen to our emotions and make a connection as to why you’re having it. Did something happen recently to upset you?
I think you can guess which is the better option!
Listening to your emotions and channelling them can help release the negative energy. One example of doing this, for example to release anger, which Hilary mentions, is to imagine the person you’re angry at and say what you would want to say to them. The act of doing this can actually trick the brain into thinking you did it in real life.
Of course this is just the tip of the ice berg in terms of advice for connecting with your emotions. To fully understand each one separately, I’d recommend buying Hilary’s book, It’s Not Always Depression which has just been released by Penguin UK. You can buy a copy on Amazon UK* for only £10.11.
It was so lovely to interview Hilary and get to speak to her; she really is inspiring. I really do hope you all go over and check our her book! You can also find her on Twitter @hilaryjhendel and Facebook: @Authorhilaryjacobshendel
Is this a method you would consider adopting? Let me know in the comments.
*this is an affiliate link meaning i’l receive a small profit if you click on it.
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