AEDP- HOW TO PROCESS EMOTIONS AND CONNECT TO YOUR AUTHENTIC SELF BY WORKING THE CHANGE TRIANGLE AND LISTENING TO THE BODY TO DISCOVER CORE EMOTIONS
Core emotions: joy, anger, sadness, fear and disgust are first and foremost physical experiences. We are born with these prewired to help us survive in the world. They act as a compass about what is good or bad for us. Our brain learns by what we repeat over and over again. If we feed positive thoughts and behaviors this turns our mind towards kindness. What cultivates goodness in humans is empathy and connection. So by moving through core emotions I believe mostly we are good at our core and so we work with the change triangle to arrive at our core self. When we are regulated we are calm in mind and body and we have the capacity for kindness towards are self and others: we have the capacity for curiosity, creativity, clear, confident, calm, comfortable.
We are in core state or authentic self when body, brain and mind is calm and not hypo or hyper aroused in an optimal homeostatic state. When we are regulated we feel connected. This core state is an open- hearted state we want to stay in as much as possible.
The image is an inverted triangle:
The goal of AEDP Therapy is to get from the top of the triangle our defenses, that take us away from our core self with unconscious protection to avoid feeling pain to then working through inhibitory emotions to our core emotions that are the doorway to our open hearted state.
Inhibitory emotions (anxiety, guilt, shame) are what we need to keep connected to others, to keep us civilized and working together, what is good for the group. There is healthy shame: (be quiet in library, do not run naked in the street) and toxic shame: (self destructive and diminishes the self) So there is conflict between our core emotions and what is good for the group and this can squash, push down core emotions. Anxiety, guilt, shame will dampen core emotional experience. Shame leads to withdrawing inward versus allowing core feelings that come up and out they need expression. The cost is our core emotions get trapped and we lose connection with the core self and start to rely on using defenses to avoid emotional pain or discomfort.
We can work the change triangle on a daily basis when we notice we are in distress, feeling anxiety, shame or guilt. We are human and wired for connection and want someone to support and accept us in life. To be able to feel our emotions with support, validation and helping us to feel received therefore we are okay.
HOW DO WE DO THIS?
1. Imagine which part of the triangle we are in. Recognize my state is altered and distressed. Name it, I am on the top left and feel defensive.( I want to numb out, reach for a drink, avoid being with feelings)
2. If I get caught in anxiety, guilt or shame. Reach for the core emotions underneath.
3. Ways to get to core emotions:
Ask myself: Am I afraid? Angry? Sad? Disgusted?
4. Validate my feelings, Allow each core emotion to come up and get air, one at a time, name them, validate them stay with my feelings.
5. Practice this over and over to arrive at a calm state and then feel better.
LEARN TO GROUND, DEEP BELLY BREATHE, FEEL FEET ON THE FLOOR.
When we are anxious we go into our head versus stay in the body. So instead find a safe place inside often arms or legs. Feel feet on the ground, breathe deep into belly for 30 seconds, pause, slow down. Try to stay in present moment, think of 3 things I can see, feel, hear in the moment.
Remember core emotions are fist and foremost physical experiences. They get triggered and messages from our brain send signals down to ready us for action. To escape danger and survive by run, fight, freeze, numb.
Allowing self to slow down in body so emotions can come into focus. Be patient, non-judgmental toward self as you tune inside. Self-judgement will take us back into the defense corner of the triangle. Emotions are temporary and do not kill us. We can work with a trusted other (therapist, counselor) to help us soothe ourselves. To be our own good parent and relate to our parts in a loving way.