Coping And Overcoming Life Stressors 3

This afternoon’s session is the third in this series, and the facilitator, Abby, began by recapitulating what we learnt in the previous two lessons – tools (the Satir Model and the Iceberg Metaphor) to help us go through consciously in order to cope with fighting for survival.

It was interesting that she started off by using the example that is today’s national news, explaining that it is not a sudden eruption; there must have been a trigger to cause the flare up. It could have been started a long time ago, but suppressed or controlled by other forces. Emotionally and psychologically, there must have been earlier memories and deep issues not addressed. What we can learn from this is that we need to discover what is going on inside our life in order to deal with it.

The factors that shape who we are today include: Nature (eg gender, birth order, family of origin); Environment (eg family, schools, neighbours, friends, work place, culture); Life Events (eg Entrance – birth, marriage, new role; Exit – death, divorce, health; and Interaction with others and self).

Nature, Environment and Life Events are beyond our control, but Interaction is more current; we can manage it and be in control of it as it is inside us. Here, we can apply the Iceberg Metaphor. To reiterate this point, Abby asked the participants to from groups, choosing the stage at which we’re  happiest: the child (age 0 – 12), teenager (13 – 19), young adult (20 – 35), adult (36 – 55) and senior adult (beyond 55). The purpose of this activity is to ask ourselves how we can relate what we have learnt to why we choose to attend this course.

Using the Iceberg Metaphor, we have to work out the Feelings, Thoughts, Expectations, Needs and Self. Ultimately, it is not easy to use this tool unless it’s practised constantly. There is always a certain level of stress or tension (though manageable), even if demands are met. A lot of times, stress is to meet a certain demand.

All human beings have needs.Demand leads to expectations, and if these are not met, disappointment will set in. Then frustration and anger follow. But deep inside, there is sadness. Then negative thoughts would come in. Up to a point, expectation has to change, and thinking be adjusted to something more realistic. Because of the adjustment, anger becomes understandings and then empathy. A lot of our behaviour is triggered by our feelings. By knowing our feelings, we get more in touch with ourselves.

After a short break, we continued with the second part of the activity, which we then discover is known as the Life Graph Exercise. In this round, we have to recall the least happy stage of our life. As this is very personal and it is not easy to talk about the unpleasant events in our lives, we did this exercise individually, using the Iceberg Metaphor.

We should not avoid asking ‘How come?’ but dare to look inside ourselves and challenge ourselves and then it’ll be clearer in the present situation. A previous situation that has happened that we didn’t process at that time may affect how we handle things. When needs are not met, feelings and thoughts are always negative.

In the last ten minutes, Abby managed to cover the three foundation building blocks for self-esteem: the need for Unconditional Love (met through Acceptance, Approval & Provision of physical, emotional & psychological needs); the need for Security (met through Comfort, Bonding, Nurture) and the need for self-worth (met through Attention, Encouragement and Affirmation).

Neglect and rejection is more harmful that physical abuse. The impact is worse. Self needs to be nurtured from a very, very young age or else it would impact the rest of our lives. A lot of times, the root cause is from our younger years, especially relationships, because our values are learnt from there. More will be shared in the next session.


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