Emotional literacy . . .

In an emergency situation, there are all sorts of people on the scene trying to help. There are the professionals who are going flat out, doing their thing, and then others who want to help but don’t really know how. And then unfortunately, you get those who are just morbidly curious, maybe even hoping to get a few seconds on their phone to put on social media.

I see many parallels in our communities around the current Mental Health crisis. There are plenty of trained professionals who continue on the front lines in areas of counselling, social work, psychiatry etc. But what about us average citizens of Aotearoa? What changes can we make, what can we do to improve Mental Health in our little corner of the world?

Changing how we think and how we communicate around all things mental and emotional is not going to be a breeze. In fact changing how we think about things, and making new patterns in the way we approach a particular issue – that can take some real effort. One particular sociologist (Thomas Scheff) says that ‘many Western societies view emotions as an indulgence or distraction’, and that ‘kids are often taught to ignore or cover over their emotions’. Uh, yep! So if that’s the place we come from, it’s not going to sit comfortably to just launch into an honest and vulnerable conversation about for instance, ‘when you feel you’re going to lose your s—t’. We can’t go from zero to one hundred in such a personal area of our lives. Even if we try being more open, that doesn’t mean others around us are going to be positive or even receptive to this transformation. It can seem like a minefield of epic proportions. Being real is one thing. Being acknowledged and listened to in a compassionate, empathic way is a whole other thing.

Leading into Mental Health Awareness week I thought it could be a step in the right direction to get some normal everyday New Zealanders to comment on their thoughts about this topic. So here we go . . .

I am going to start off by saying that at times I just get overwhelmed with life and need some time to get my headspace right. That might mean that even when I am flat out, I try to take 10 minutes to sit down and have a cup of tea to gather my thoughts before ploughing into the next thing. If I can squeeze some time to go for a long walk some place where I can appreciate nature – either with greenery or water, then that’s a plus. My question is – what do you do to help yourself when you’re on empty?

If you’re interested to know more (in very manageable, bite-sized chunks) about Emotional Literacy, what it’s all about and how it can benefit pretty much EVERY area of your life, pop over to my Instagram and follow the discussion. Love to know what your thoughts are.

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© 2015 Rose Stanley.  All rights reserved.