Addressing Symptoms

Your Inner Guidance System: Tuning-in

This article seeks to explore more advanced self-care strategies. Tuning-in to the self, and/or self-awareness, is one of the quintessential skills for knowing how to self-regulate effectively in stressful, unknown, and new unexplored situations. Knowing yourself, and how to balance and regulate your moods to keep a positive outlook on life is going to be crucial in reducing unnecessary conflicts with friends, colleagues, and relatives. Ultimately, tuning-in will put you in touch with more articulated feelings of happiness, self-worth, and esteem. As always, you will need to consult with your psychiatrist and therapist before implementing these skills in your own living environment.

Before you are able to really get in touch with your inner guidance system, try monitoring your use of language in everyday conversations. The words you choose can be an effective indicator of getting in touch with your thoughts and feelings. Are you using alarming or adversarial language? Or even more telling, are you using words which catastrophize or totalize situations or events? Begin to think about your language more closely. If anything, the rhetoric you use everyday will not only give you an impression if your thoughts are coming from a negative space but also have an impact on your interactions with other people. In general, is your language so provocative other people are avoiding interacting with you? Or, are conversations so labored that it is just easier to avoid speaking with you altogether? Certainly, more positive interactions will generate a more positive and regulated mood so think carefully about your choice of wording.

An important next step in tuning in and getting in touch with your inner guidance system is really evaluating your reception by others when you are in different emotional spaces. You’re probably not going to feel outstanding all of the time, but begin to notice how people evaluate your different moods. Observe the people that just tolerate your unhappy moods and the people that are able to help you re-frame negative experiences into more positive associations. Knowing which people write you off when you are unhappy versus the people that work with you to lift your spirits is going to be vital in feeling balanced in a world that is very unbalanced. Also, more importantly, staying balanced is going to be an important self-management technique in truly getting in touch with your feelings and thoughts.

Arguably one of the most complex self-management skills in knowing how you are feeling at the moment you are experiencing the emotion. One of the easiest indicators for knowing when you are mad or upset, aside from hearing it from other people, is a simple evaluation of your thought process. Are you generating negative associations or positive ones? For example, when a new thought process begins to unfold, are you drawing negative conclusions or more positive upbeat ideas? If you are in fact feeling bad and thinking negative, there are steps you can take by yourself to feel more positive. This can be done through traditional self-prescribed CBT or DBT or it can be done with a simple safety inventory. Since the root of our feelings of happiness and conversely, sadness, are rooted in how safe we feel in the moment, complete a moment by moment analysis to evaluate how safe you feel right now, where you are, in the moment to evaluate if the threats you perceive are as looming as they seem.


1 reply »

  1. It seems that so many of the issues the mentally ill have to deal with are primarily addressed in the individual’s interactions with their health care provider, since so much of the treatment must be internalized. I would like to see a post where you recommend what to look for in a therapist. It must be difficult for a patient, who may have inaccurate perceptions, to effectively evaluate if their mental health care provider is competent and effective.


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