When people hear about our work

Posted by on Feb 10, 2020 • 3 minute read

Emotional wellbeing, mental health, depression, stress, and anxiety are concepts that are still taboo to talk about - help 5th Place break the stigma.

What is the question most asked after swapping names when you first meet someone?

Typically it's something along the lines of "So, what do you do?" This is where that elevator pitch is supposed to kick in that those marketing gurus talk about. You know that 30 second persuasive speech that sounds completely natural and sooo compelling as to have the listener leaning in, nodding, smiling and asking for more?

Given our work, how does one talk about emotions (hell no!), mental wellness (you mean illness, don’t you?), a non-pharmaceutical approach to dealing with difficult emotions as well as enhancing positive feelings (woo woo!) without getting that glazed over look and a “I’m just going to get another drink” as said listener rapidly exits left?

Not being ones to bow to a challenge we considered just how we could most clearly describe Shape of Emotion succinctly. Here is an example of one of our attempts:

"Its a tool you can use to support yourself when you are feeling overwhelmed by difficult emotions. It’s also a tool you can use to elevate your mood and feel calmer."

Listener response as they look quite confused: "What kind of tool? Like an instrument? Or an app or something?"

"It’s a model of emotion regulation. You can use it to reduce the intensity of difficult emotions."

Listener response as they look less confused: "Oh, like stress and anxiety?"

"Yes", comes our hopeful reply, thankful that here is someone who, at last, may get what we are about.

"Wow, that sounds amazing. The world is very stressed at the moment, you can see it all around," she (or he) replies as if she (or he) is not part of the world that needs it.

Shape of Emotion turns 2 in 2020

Our use of Shape of Emotion over the past year - 2019 -yielded some interesting insights. Here's a list of everything we learnt:

1. When People Hear About Our Work
2. Am I doing it right?
3. Rich or poor... It's all just the same

 

What did we learn from this?

A couple of things. Emotional wellbeing, mental health, depression, stress, and anxiety are concepts that are still taboo to talk about. They’re especially not for cocktail conversations. When we are able to surmount this taboo summit with the person we are talking to, we are met with the view that stress, anxiety and other difficult emotions are states of being that affect other people, not our conversation partner.

The latter point talks directly to something we discovered early on in our Shape of Emotion journey. As human beings emotions are intrinsic to who and what we are. In the same way that our body has physical needs, it also has emotional needs. As people, we’re quite good at attending to the physical ones - eating, drinking, sleeping and so on. The emotional ones, not so much. When we ask the audience of our talks and workshops why this is, we are always told: "Because we don’t know how."

At 5th Place we can (and do) support people who are grappling with severe and long held emotional challenges. More importantly, however, is looking after the little emotional challenges. The ones like: parental frustrations, traffic exasperation, boss and co-worker annoyances, anxiety about money. These may not seem like much on their own, but when you add them together they can become overwhelming. And that’s when physical issues start to show up.

What’s the lesson then?

You can only change what you acknowledge or accept. Acceptance of being human means we all have emotions. Talking about our emotions should be as natural as being able to say “I have a cold” or “I pulled a muscle”. In the absence of feeling comfortable about talking about emotions, because this is the current reality, using a process like Shape of Emotion is a way of dealing with them. When we deal with our stuck, difficult emotions, the world becomes a better place, and life a little easier.

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