The Shape of your Emotion

Posted by on May 18, 2018 • 4 minute read

Our first talk about Shape of Emotion. An interactive presentation for coaches, who were given the opportunity to explore the difference between emotions and feelings and experience the shape of their emotion.

 

Coaches get insight into the Shape of their emotion

We did our first talk about Shape of Emotion this week! Well, Matthew did the actual talk, which was more an interactive presentation, but I did collaborate on the content, layout and process. And I recorded it. That’s important, you know, for all our future marketing. I also have this idea that we will use it to refine our offering by analysing the twists and turns of Matthew’s performance. Like the Springboks do after each match. We’re not emotion and feeling Springboks yet, mind you, but we have to start somewhere! The video quality may be questionable because it was done with a handheld iPhone in low light (my hand held it). We forgot the tripod…

The talk was for COMENSA (Coaches and Mentors of South Africa), as part of their ongoing offering to coaches and mentors in the Gauteng, East Rand, region. The talk was billed as “Matthew Green’s revolutionary approach to managing, processing and releasing negative emotion.” Sounds impressive, although we don’t really like calling them “negative” emotions, we prefer “difficult” emotions. Emotions and feelings all have a use, they indicate that something needs to be attended to. Calling them negative could mean that they are “bad”. They are only bad if we don’t attend to them.

The stigma of workplace stress in a VUCA world

We do live in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world.
Pressure to perform, constant change, relationship issues, societal inequalities result in unprecedented stress. The sad situation is that employee absenteeism costs the South African economy about R14 billion annually. A large part of this is related to burnout, employee ill health and workplace stress. In the UK mental health issues are experienced by a significant percentage of people in the workplace, but more than 70% of workers in the UK conceal it because they fear discrimination when either looking for a job or keeping it.

This is what coaches deal with everyday – emotions and the effect they have on their clients and themselves. Who hasn’t been upended by an unexpected verbal explosion from a fellow human being or a surprise encounter with a wayward taxi while rushing to the next appointment? Sometimes it feels like we are at the mercy of our emotions and feelings. It doesn’t have to be like that.

Are emotions and feelings different?

Emotions and feelings are different, although we tend to use these words interchangeably. In actual fact, using words to describe our feelings and why we have them, are not enough to dissipate their intensity and let them go. In addition, the fight, flight or freeze response inhibits our higher cognitive abilities like decision making, planning and problem solving. This has ramifications for all sorts of life experiences. Shape of Emotion offers a solution to manage, process and release difficult or painful emotions. It also can increase and expand positive ones, which is a pleasant, free benefit.

Shape of Emotion is content free. This means adult participants don’t get lost in the story and rational cognitive components of the experience. Young participants, who aren’t able to rationalise emotion, are supported and helped equally. Being content free, it also enables deep change work to be done in groups where sensitivity to sharing personal experiences and the resulting superficial engagement with the problem can sometimes be a hindrance to effective change.

A four step process to reduce stress and anxiety

Shape of Emotion is a four step process. Matthew took the attendees through the first three steps. The thirty or so, attendees were asked to sit comfortably in their chairs, close their eyes and, taking a deep breath, relax their bodies. They were asked to connect with a feeling of anxiety. Not too difficult when we live in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world. Next, they were asked to find this emotion as a feeling in their body. Yes, emotions live in or around our bodies as felt states. “When you have found that feeling in your body, put your hand on that place, so that I know you have found it,” Matthew directed them. “Now slowly open your eyes and look around you. Notice where others have their hands,” he continued. The audience opened their eyes and looked around. People had their hands on different parts of their body: some on their stomach, some on their shoulders, others held the back of their necks, or their foreheads. We are all different – we store our emotions and feelings in different places, and different emotions will show up in different parts of our bodies too. There is no right or wrong.

Having found where this particular anxiety sat (another instance of anxiety may appear in a different place), Matthew guided them go inside their bodies to observe what their anxiety looked like. That is all. Just to observe. And that is not all – it is amazing – because once you realise that your emotion has a shape, you realise that it is finite. That it can be managed. You have to experience it to believe it.

We want to talk to you!

We are actively looking for places and groups of people to share and present this revolutionary new way of looking at and dealing with feelings and emotions. Stress and anxiety have affected us all in one form or another. Using Shape of Emotion can gently and effectively mitigate and reduce stress and anxiety. If you would like to know more, or are interested in having us present, please connect and contact us.

Chantal Dawtrey

Chantal loves to learn and loves to work with people who want to learn. She is the co-founder of 5th Place and co-creator of Shape of Emotion.

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