This coaching episode offers you an immediate and effective method to begin to master your emotions in grief using an Emotion Wheel.
0:13 Difference between emotions & feelings
1:08 Emotional healing in grief
3:57 Why we disconnect from emotions
4:52 Emotion Wheel - how it works
8:29 How to work with an Emotion Wheel
10:33 Emotions - the chemical process
12:23 How to master your emotions in grief
17:37 Building a foundation of thoughts
Connect with Vonne
Books (by Vonne Solis)
Lessons in Surviving Suicide – A Letter to My Daughter
Divine Healing Transforming Pain into Personal Power – A Guide to Heal Pain From Child Loss, Suicide and Other Grief
The Power of Change
Dr. Jill Boyte Taylor
Vonne Solis 0:00
Welcome to another Grief Talk Coffee Chat episode. I'm your host, Vonne Solis.
Vonne Solis 0:13
Welcome to another Divine Coaching episode, Mastering your Emotions in Grief. So if we start with the understanding that emotional pain, yes, it does affect us physically and mentally, but at the root of our grief is emotional pain, it's essential to understand that if we don't understand our emotions that are driving us, we can't address our pain. And while not addressing our pain may feel comfortable until it doesn't, if we can't address our pain, we can't begin to heal.
Vonne Solis 0:46
I think most of us get confused about emotions and feelings and whether they're the same thing or not. So if you search online for the actual definition, you'll find relatively the same answer. Emotions start as sensations in the body, and feelings are what we think about those emotions.
Vonne Solis 1:08
So I became very interested in the importance of emotional healing very early in my grief, after I lost my daughter Janaya to suicide in 2005. I started paying attention to how devastating the negative emotions that I was going through were on my body and of course could be for anyone in the same situation. In fact, negative emotions impact all aspects of our health and life. And often, we don't even understand that it is our emotions that is responsible for the decline that we find ourselves in.
Vonne Solis 1:46
So as a bereaved mom since 2005, when my daughter Janaya took her life, I've had a few years to make friends with my emotions. And try different methods that would work for me to get a better grasp on what was going on inside of me and obviously having an impact in certain areas of my life, in general. I wanted to really truly understand my emotions.
Vonne Solis 2:14
In fact, I struggled for a long time, wondering if it's even possible to emotionally heal in grief. I guess I've had an innate sense, from the very beginning of my bereavement that emotions did play a major role in our grief though we don't necessarily talk about emotional healing that much in Western culture. And I wanted to really know if we could heal from emotional pain, to find peace, instead of just suffering.
Vonne Solis 2:44
My struggle came from feeling so alone in my bereavement, and isolated, and not being able to make sense of what I was going through. Which is pretty common for a lot of bereaved people. And especially grieving parents, or suicide survivors, or people who have suffered other traumatic loss. So while I could identify the physical symptoms that were occurring in my body, and this would be, you know, 2005 through to certainly 2009, 10. For many years anyway, they were presenting as symptoms of anxiety and stress. And as a matter of fact, diagnosed by doctors as stress. But nobody knew where they were coming from. And certainly not me. I wanted to know what these symptoms were precisely related to, in my grief, and why? In other words, I wanted to know what was driving me in all areas of my life. What did I really think about the suicide of my daughter? What was I really feeling and why?
Vonne Solis 3:57
I get that some emotions are just too wieldy for us to deal with. Which is probably a reason why so many people are disconnected from their emotions, or either repress or suppress them. Just don't want to deal with the emotional pain. But after the last several years of paying more attention to this and being able to recognize immediately what was driving me. At least in a general sense, in any given moment that was distressing for me. In any way actually, I found that it is essential to know what is going on within us emotionally if we are to make sense of our inner state, really at all times in our grief, and know what we need to heal. Or at least focus on in our recovery.
Vonne Solis 4:52
I started using an emotional wheel recently and there are many emotional wheels that you can download for free online, to help me II further understand what I was expressing emotionally at any given time. But especially in the times that I felt were distressing. Or I was reacting or I just really am feeling off balance, to help me decipher the root cause of what's going on within me that often, especially at certain times of the year, these emotions can be disruptive, or even volatile.
Vonne Solis 5:32
So using this emotion wheel, and I'm going to be putting a link to the emotion wheel in the description, it has been amazing to be able to decipher quickly and accurately what I'm experiencing in any difficult moment. But most importantly, understand the why. Which is key to practicing emotional self-care in grief. And of course, eventually mastering your emotions in grief.
Vonne Solis 6:00
So I'll give you a quick example. At the time of this recording, it's the 18th anniversary of my daughter's passing. So July is always a really difficult month for me. In fact, even leading up to the summer can be difficult for me. And especially, I can experience difficult emotions the couple of days, the day before, the day after her Angel anniversary.
Vonne Solis 6:24
So recently, I've been feeling something. And I decided to use the emotion wheel to determine exactly what I was feeling. So it turned out, I'm feeling sad. So with sadness, sitting at the core of this particular emotion wheel I'm using with six other emotions, on its own, it's related to 18 other emotions. And for the video audience, I've got the emotion wheel I'm using displayed on the screen. But using this wheel, I was able to narrow this sadness to just two other emotions. Vulnerable and fragile.
Vonne Solis 7:07
So now that I know what I'm dealing with, at this 18th anniversary. Feeling sad, vulnerable and fragile, I could quickly dismiss the 16 other emotions that sadness is related to, (again, using this wheel) that in my earlier grief, I could be experiencing a range of any one of these other 16, it became really easy to be gentle with myself. Understanding that yes, I do feel sad. Which is making me feel vulnerable and somewhat fragile. Which is also making me feel a little bit tired and oversensitive, probably, but that I need some time alone to reflect. Rest and just be gentle with myself. Giving me time to think about how far I've come. How I think about this 18th anniversary. And most importantly, how I want to go forward as I enter my 19th year of bereavement.
Vonne Solis 8:03
Because I can be really honest with myself about what I am expressing emotionally, 18 years after my loss, on the flip side of everything I just described, I also can recognize I am not depressed. Feeling guilty, hurt, victimized, powerless, or any of the other unpleasant emotions related to sad. And that's saying a lot for me.
Vonne Solis 8:29
Whether you use this emotion wheel or download a number of other ones, as I said that are free online to download, and they have some variations of emotions linked to the central seven ones. That that seemed to be at the core of every emotion wheel, it is a great tool to work with to help you get in the zone of what's happening emotionally for you in any given moment. Particularly in times as I said of distress, dysfunction, irrationality. You know anything that's setting you off balance and start self-correcting.
Vonne Solis 9:02
By the way, you can even do this for positive emotions. And this is really important in grief. Especially if you struggle with feeling better about yourself and about your situation. Which actually can happen and does happen. I would wager for most grievers, you can start to feel a little guilty in that about being happy. But at the same time you want goodness in your life again. So I would suggest using this emotion wheel to even understand the positive emotions. Take happy at the root of it and all the other correlated emotions and recognize and accept that this is what I'm truly feeling within. And holding on to those positive emotions for the moments that you slip into more negative ones but that you know you have felt this way before and you can center yourself by slipping back in to these emotions and the thoughts that you are having related to them.
Vonne Solis 9:02
You see, once you understand the emotions that you are feeling, you automatically have thoughts associated with those emotions. Those are the ones that can become your affirmations. Your go-to motivating statements that you can put on the wall and stickies around you. Write in a diary. You know, keep them on your iPhone in your notes. But remember, I felt that way. I want to feel that way again.
Vonne Solis 10:33
We are emotional beings. And for most of us, I'd say we are completely emotionally illiterate. As I've said, we are not trained to understand ourselves emotionally. And when we do tap into our emotions, we don't know what to do with the information we are receiving. There's a lot of cultural pressure for all of us to be positive all of the time as part of the pressure we all face, to appear successful in every aspect of our life.
Vonne Solis 11:01
But emotions are fleeting. As a matter of fact, according to a Harvard neuroscientist who did a lot of research on the brain, she discovered that when we have a reaction to anything in our environment, there is a chemical process that occurs and flushes out of our body within 90 seconds. So any emotion that we are holding on to past this 90 seconds is something we are choosing to do. Her name is Dr. Jill Boyte Taylor. And I'll put a link to her work if you're interested in learning more about that. But she states that emotions that we choose to stay in after this 90 second flush, is an emotional response, as I said, that we are choosing. And keeps our brain re-stimulating our circuitry to have the same physiological responses over and over again.
Vonne Solis 12:04
And she says, and of course, I wholeheartedly agree that this is the time that we really need to check what we're thinking. Our mind chatter. What are we telling ourselves? What are those, you know, thoughts we have on repeat that are causing us to stay trapped in these emotional reactions?
Vonne Solis 12:23
So how do you begin to master your emotions in grief? I've got three easy steps for you. Step one, download an emotion wheel. Either you know download the one I'm putting a link to, or find another one. In fact, I'm going to use a combination of wheels because some of them have correlations to different emotions. Then use the emotion wheel. You can do it really, really quickly, to identify all of the emotions. The core emotion you're feeling, and then all of the related emotions to that and narrow this down as much as possible using the wheel. Be honest with yourself, what am I really, really expressing here emotionally? Step three, decide what to do with the information.
Vonne Solis 13:04
And this is really key. Once you have the information you can decide don't want to stay in this loop? I want to sit with this for a while and just be with, you know, my anger. Be with my sadness. Be with all of these things I'm feeling. And there's nothing wrong with that. Or you can decide to change your thoughts. And hence change the emotions.
Vonne Solis 13:23
So the key in all of this and working towards mastering your emotions in grief, is that once you are able to understand the emotions that are igniting whatever in you within, you can make a connection to what you are actually feeling at your core and why. This can actually help you very quickly defuse conflict. Create a healthier environment. Immediately improve your relationships and your experience and your life in grief, in general.
Vonne Solis 13:57
So after years into my healing journey, I can honestly say that we can't become a better version of ourselves if we don't know what's going on within us. We are emotional-based creatures. So we have to understand the emotions driving us if we're to understand what's really going on, at the core of our beings.
Vonne Solis 14:19
Having said this, I get that emotions are really scary to deal with. And I would offer that one of the reasons that we disconnect, repress, suppress. Pack away emotions, is because if we dig too deep and connect, you know, to those emotions that we don't know how to handle - remember, we're not trained for this, we fear we will become out of control.
Vonne Solis 14:47
And I know I felt that way for many years. And I'll be honest, I could still feel that a little bit visit like for example visiting the emotions connected to trauma. I might lose control. Don't want to go there just yet, okay? But here's the thing. Avoiding emotions leaves us feeling exhausted and without any energy, to focus on our recovery and healing. To work on just being our most authentic selves. Which is especially important in our vulnerability. If we can't do this, we get sick, we break down emotionally, mentally, and turn to all sorts of vices.
Vonne Solis 15:30
It's actually very freeing to tell yourself and even others, how you are really feeling and what's going on with you emotionally. Especially in triggering times, and other times of conflict and just being out of balance. But one of the reasons we don't do this is because, you know, as I said, we are conditioned to always appear positive. Because positivity equals success, and strength, and nobody wants to come across as weak and vulnerable. In fact, admitting we're weak and vulnerable, often makes us think there's something wrong with us. And when we think there's something wrong with us, we further disconnect from our emotions, and our true state of being. Which is the most inauthentic way of living.
Vonne Solis 16:24
So understanding your emotions, and your thoughts associated with these emotions, and particularly, if you're in long-haul grief, you know, this becomes critically important, the longer you're in grief. And maybe the, the, the more you sort of recognize that you're not making any improvement in how you're feeling. Changing your situation. You know, things are bad, or just not great, right? So understanding your emotions and thoughts greatly influence whether you are going to react to situations in life. Or you are going to intentionally choose everything you are experiencing in your life. At least to the best of your ability and of course, in stages the more you're you're you're able to choose better things for yourself. And this latter is what makes it possible to start imagining and creating the life that you really do want to be living. And that includes health, relationships, finances, environments, work, volunteer. Every aspect of your life. You really do have the power to manage all of that on your terms.
Vonne Solis 17:37
When you have been rocked by a very traumatic loss, or something else in your life that has been traumatic, and you feel like you are on shaky ground and without a compass, that is the very moment it is critical to start building a foundation. A really strong foundation of thoughts and beliefs that are healthy to get you where you want to go in your recovery. I've never wanted to stay stuck in suffering and I hate to think about other people's suffering. So I'm always the one that's going to choose to want more for my life and to feel better every single day than I maybe did the day before. You know, or at least get to the point with maintaining a healthy balance in my life, of respecting the pain that comes and goes, but also choosing the enjoyment and the abundance that I have in my life. And not feeling guilty about it.
Vonne Solis 18:44
Now the goal is not to attempt to try and change your thinking, hence master your emotions overnight. That's not going to happen. Rather, it's to understand the ability you have to switch your thinking by understanding your emotions at any given moment. Again, especially if this is distressing and you know, knocking you off balance and deciding what you want to do with the information.
Vonne Solis 19:10
The choices you have, as I said, are to sit with what you're going through for a little while. To immediately change what you're telling yourself or obsessing about to healthier thoughts. And three, to be gentle with yourself and give yourself permission to be exactly who you are and need to be in your grief at any given moment. Feeling love and compassion for yourself.
Vonne Solis 19:34
In closing, I'm just going to say that we all have stuff to deal with in life. And that's okay.
Vonne Solis 19:41
If you'd like to join my community newsletter, I'll also have a link to that down below. Thanks for watching. Thanks for listening. Until next time.