“What happened? I thought you were excited about this weekend, we’ve had this planned for ages.” said Marsha storming through the door. –“Don’t you think I know all that. But I’ve got this important maths exam on Monday. I have to study.” –“What do you mean you have to study? You were always quite good at maths and you studied hard all year. A couple of days won’t make a difference, plus you need a break.” She had to admit he looked rather unwell. –“You don’t understand Marsha. I get really nervous especially when it’s such an important exam and then I forget everything. It’s like my head is on fire and all the answers are covered by flames.” They both went quiet for what seemed like ages. It was Marsha who interrupted the silence, “I used to feel like that before my dance performance. I was worried that I would forget my steps, or fall off the stage and everyone would laugh at me. One day it got really bad, I made myself ill and had to cancel the show. I spoke to my mum and she told me what she used to do when she felt worried, stressed or anxious and it helped.” -“Well are you going to tell me?” shouted Peter. –“Of course I am. Here is what I do. I think of the time when I felt really confident.” –“Oh! I felt like that on a ski trip once. It was when I managed to get down the black run for the very first time. It was awesome.” –“Yes Peter, but please let me finish and stop being impatient.” – “Sorry” said Peter feeling a bit sulky. – “So like I said. I remember the time when I felt good about myself. For me it was when I won a dance competition. Then I sort of step back in time and relive the moment. I can hear the same song playing; I see the yellow colour of the dance floor. I can even smell the roses I got that day. I feel the excitement, it’s almost like my heart is jumping. So if there is the time when I’m lacking the confidence or am worried I play the same song and I even got myself a little yellow stress ball to remind me of this great time and then my feelings start to change.” –“That sounds quite easy. I still don’t know what to do about my head though.” –“Well you know that your head is not really on fire. It is just how you are imagining it. Perhaps you can imagine something more cooling instead and see how that goes”. –“Yeah! Since I had such a great time skiing I guess I could imagine the snow falling on the mountains and literally ‘stay cool’. Thanks Marsha, I’ll give it a go. I know I’ve done my best for this exam to go well so now I deserve some fun. Let’s go!”
Steps to take:
1. If you ever feel sad, nervous, anxious or angry stop for a minute, close your eyes and pay attention to what is going on. Notice where in your body is the feeling. Do you see any images? If so are they black and white or do you see colours? Do you hear any sounds, music playing, people talking etc.?
2. Then remember the times when you felt really happy, confident and do the same thing. Be curious. Where in your body do you feel those emotions? Do you see any images, are there any colours? What about sounds? You may even remember the smell or taste. Notice the difference.
3. Now whenever you need to get rid of that not so good feeling go to Step 2 and enhance those good emotions. Play the song that makes you happy, have something in your happy colour, even if it’s just the pencil. Imagine those great times and get the great feeling floating through your body.
Remember emotions aren’t exactly real. You cannot hold them or touch them. The only real thing is how you represent them inside your head and that you can change.