What Type of E-Leader are You?

What Type of E-Leader are You?

What kind of leader are you or how do you lead yourself in virtual environments? I ask you this question and not simply what kind of leader you are because at this point and after years of tsunamis of theories and talks about coaching and leadership, surely you have already identified with the charismatic leader, the authoritarian, the democratic, the inspiring ...

But suddenly, a global pandemic arrives that does not seem to end and if it does it will be after a technological sprint and having turned our work environments into virtual environments. With this new board and new rules, we are forced to redefine our leadership style, both with our teams and with ourselves.

Perhaps redefining is not the exact word but ADAPT, adapt to the new digital ecosystem, and adapt those factors of our leadership that gave us identities such as social skills, empathy, teamwork or ways of providing feedback.

An interesting bibliographic review carried out among universities in different countriesContreras & Baykal, 2020) shows how teleworking can offer numerous advantages both in terms of the well-being of employees and their productivity, but only if effective e-leadership is present. On the contrary, moving to remote work can involve numerous risks. These changes include both the adaptation of structures, trying to make them less hierarchical, and fostering trust and quality personal relationships among team members as well as a genuine interest in people's well-being.

When examining this research, I thought how applicable this is not only for leading teams but also for self-leadership, especially in self-employed workers or in those who start a new project alone. Training our cognitive flexibility, prioritizing our well-being, and maintaining contact with other people in our sector will be decisive both for the telework experience and for quality and success.

Leading remotely poses numerous challenges, but here I show you 3 of the ones that we have been able to observe the most in recent months both in fieldwork and research:

  1. Maintain team spirits and productivity.
  2. Manage uncertainty.
  3. Successfully management of new hires.

Obviously, the technological factor and digital skills have played a key role in adapting to teleworking, but in my experience with greater or lesser effort and with the necessary support and motivation, even the profiles with less prior exposure to technology have finished adapting.

It is therefore not surprising that we put the greatest focus on people. In the era of technology and precisely due to the automation of processes, some think that a wave of dehumanization of work will come, but it is precisely this automation that gives greater importance to personal skills and social relationships. Skills such as emotional intelligence, creativity, collaboration, and of course identity and purpose have become essential both in telecommuting and in the job market.

Emotional intelligence is a differential variable when it comes to recognizing both how we feel and the state of mind of our team, which will allow us not only to be more empathetic leaders but also better communicators since people tend to prefer to listen to those who listen to us to those who show a coherent communication with how we feel, this makes us feel validated. A study carried out with 138 managers from 66 different organizations showed the relationship between the emotional intelligence of leaders and the creativity of their teamsRego & Sousa, 2007), a skill that for any company has become one of its main assets thanks to the need for constant innovation.

How do I do it in a virtual environment? There are multiple ways to develop emotional intelligence, from the labelling of emotions and their regulation (in this blog you will find a fantastic explanatory article written by Amanda Blanco about it), to the planning of informal meetings in small groups or there are even organizations that implement their own "mood thermometer" to be aware of the team's mood.

Collaboration is another of the capacities that we must train in the online environment, not only because feeling part of a team's work gives us a greater identity and affinity with the organization but because, like emotional intelligence, it stimulates innovation and creativity. The University of Ludn, in Sweden, published in 2019 a study on the organizational climate and the promotion of creativity and innovation of employees, showing how environments that favor a space for entrepreneurship and in which challenges are shared are capable to foster these skills.

How do I do it in a virtual environment? The ease of convening meetings and being connected has made many people feel like they are on a constant journey from one call by zoom, teams ... to another, with an endless list of tasks and with high feelings of guilt or inefficiency in their breaks. . An alternative is to respect these breaks, to promote behaviours on the part of the leader at the end of the workday that encourages the team to enjoy other tasks or areas of their life, thus allowing ideas to emerge in moments of “unfocus”.

Finally, and concerning the purpose and identity, perhaps this is the most difficult part to adapt to the online environment, especially in cases of new incorporations or in times of high tension and uncertainty, but it is precisely that identity and purpose one of the variables that it correlates more significantly with the commitment and satisfaction of people in their jobs (even at the same level as salary and flexible hours). Therefore it is also one of the fields that have most attracted neuroscientists to research.

How do I do it in a virtual environment? Some of the ideas are the construction of the team objective and even the construction of the dynamics and the work organization that will be followed. A dynamic aimed at achieving objectives but above all COHERENT with the expressed values. For this, we can look for workspaces without sharing documents, where we can simply see each other, get to know each other, and share how we feel most comfortable working and how we each want to develop our talent during this project.

Just a few weeks ago at Sinews, we gave a group training to leaders of Everis, an organization as digital as it is people-centred, about Neuro-leadership in Virtual Environments and these needs for “reskilling” and adapting to our social relationships, to promote feedback personal and fostering group identity and purpose came to light.

Even in this training, which was online, we were able to observe that elements such as participation, emotional involvement, and looking beyond our ego were the best antidote to combat the impossibility of conducting these workshops in person.

Leticia Martínez Prado
Division of Psychology, Psychotherapy and Coaching
Leticia Martínez Prado
Psychologist and Coach
Adults and couples
Languages: English and Spanish
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Homesickness in Times of Pandemic

Homesickness in Times of Pandemic

"You will never be completely at home again because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That's is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place."

Mirim Adaney defines very well in this couple of sentences the difficulties of being an expatriate or living far away from our family and friends. All of us who have gone through this experience know how enriching and challenging it can be at the same time.

But what happens if we add to the difficulties of living away from home (often in a new culture and with a different language), the social distancing measures, and the restrictions due to COVID? Sounds complicated, doesn't it?.

It is, and it is primarily for two reasons:

  • These measures are making the process of adapting to the new culture and the new place of residence very complicated, since they make it impossible or difficult to establish new social relationships and maintain regular routines such as going to the gym or attending language classes in person (places that foster the creation of new friendships and relationships as well as the establishment of routines that help us feel "at home").
  • It is much more difficult, and in some cases impossible, to visit or return home to take a break, rest, and connect with our roots.

This feeling of being between two worlds, it's accentuated because, on the one hand, we cannot fully connect with the new one (establish new connections, have a satisfactory social life, go out, travel, get to know this new place, its culture, and its people) and on the other hand, we feel and are physically farther away from our roots.

In short, the process of cultural adaptation becomes much heavier and more difficult, and the impossibility of returning home is added, which produces tremendous homesickness or what we call in Spanish "MORRIÑA".

Homesickness is the feeling of sadness or grief that one feels when being away from one's homeland or loved people or places. And this very natural feeling that we experience when we are away from home is tremendously exacerbated by the uncertainty surrounding us these days due to the pandemic's consequences.

Previously, a great way to deal with this sadness was to sign up for activities that facilitated social contact, to plan the next vacation to go home, to have a definite date that allowed us to cross days off the calendar, but now, with the restrictions that accompany us, this becomes tremendously difficult and even impossible to carry out.

When we enter into this state of homesickness, we may experience challenging emotions and feelings such as sadness, fatigue, inability to concentrate, frustration, tiredness, anger... And although all of these are considered completely normal, sometimes they are very unpleasant, and the intensity can make us need some help to deal with them.

So what can we do if this happens to us?

Well, first of all, understand that what we feel is entirely normal.

As we have explained, living away from home, although it is a super enriching experience, always entails a certain degree of difficulty that is exacerbated by the current situation we are dealing with. Be patient, be aware that much of what happens is caused by the context, allow yourself to "feel sad" at times, and ask for help if necessary.

And from here, look for solutions that make us deal with this situation and symptomatology in the most positive way possible. For this, here are some tips and ideas that can help us to cope and improve our mental health in situations like this:

Find peers:

Although our idea may be to try to interact as much as possible with locals, it is always important to also have the possibility to talk to people in your same situation with whom you can share what is happening to you and what you feel. If possible and if you are from another country, if these people are from your culture and speak your language, it will help you feel closer to home. There are plenty of online groups and communities to connect people, as well as applications that are designed to make friends. Internet will be your best ally, research and find out what resources are available to you.

Stay active and pay attention to your routine:

Although it can be difficult to adapt our rhythm to the restrictions, we can always find alternatives and safely adjust and do the same activities in a COVID-free way. Try always to keep your sleeping and eating schedules as well as doing sports activities. If access to gyms is not yet an option in your city, try to practise sports outdoors or at home. Through the internet, you can also find applications and groups that can help you in this regard.

Stay connected to your roots:

Communicate with home, plan video calls with family friends, and as much as possible, try to plan activities with them. We just need a little imagination; we can cook together, eat together, go on a date, watch a movie, play online games... think about what you used to do together before and look for an alternative. Not everything has to be online communication; sometimes, sending each other letters, postcards, or photos can make us feel closer to home.

Find items that you miss:

Many times, we miss not only family and friends but also our favorite foods or products. Try to find a store that sells native products of your country or ask a family member or friend to prepare a package for you. Not only can it include your favorite cookies or sauces, but also items that make you feel close to home.

Try to connect with people in your city and make friends:

Using your hobbies for this can be a great idea. Look for activities that you enjoy and that can be done safely; you can sign up for classes or connect with people who have the same interests as you. This will gradually make you connect with new people, increasing your social circle while you enjoy and relax doing an activity.

If, after trying all this, you still have difficulties and these emotions affect and tarnish other areas of your life, remember that you can always ask for professional help.

Talking about our pain does not make it bigger; it helps us to alleviate and heal it.

Saray Cáliz Aguilera
Division of Psychology, Psychotherapy and Coaching
Saray Cáliz Aguilera
Languages: English and Spanish
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Love at a Distance

Love at a Distance

"Long-distance relationships have a 48% failure rate."

"Long-distance relationships have a 48% failure rate." Almost one in two long-distance relationships fail as a result.

It is clear that globalization and new technologies have brought us closer to the point of forming multicultural families and couples. Thus, we create more diverse, enriching, and creative environments.

But it is also true that more and more couples have long-distance relationships because they belong to different countries or because work or study circumstances make them live separately.

We all know short distance relationships (neighbouring cities or a few kilometres), medium distance (different locations in the same country or nearby countries), or long-distance (in other continents and time zones) but who was going to tell us just ago a year that we could have a long-distance relationship being so close because we are confined to our homes or that we would have to change plans and plane tickets three, four or even five times..

Of course, 2020 has left us many things, but one of them is the constant challenge to our ability to adapt and in the romantic sphere it was not going to be different.

When I was asked to write this post, my immediate response was that I was delighted to do it as a professional, since I work in couples therapy and I have learned a lot about these problems thanks to each of them. But I also have to admit that I was excited to do it from a personal point of view since I have lived for years and first-hand love at a distance.

Today I share with you the ABC of long-distance relationships or as this post of love in the times of COVID titles. I hope that after reading it you can start putting these 3 tricks into practice both in your relationship with your partner and with yourself.

Acceptance: one of the most repeated concepts in psychology, meditation, mindfulness, interpersonal relationships, and above all one of the most important tools that 2020 has left us.

Accepting means 2 things in the distance relationship:

  1. Accept circumstances that are not within our control, such as regulations, unexpected events, flight cancellations, or job opportunities that appear by surprise and change our plans. It hurts us to accept these changes because of the expectations that we had created of what they would be like and that we have to give up and because of the fear of their consequences. It is normal and more in a long-distance relationship that we spend time thinking about how our next meeting will be and it is also normal that we fear that if something negative does not occur, it will happen.
  2.  Accept our difficult thoughts and emotions.This costs even more. It is many occasions to want to avoid feeling uncertainty, insecurity, lack of attention, or even wanting to avoid "waiting" is what guides our behaviour and generates tensions and conflicts.

Let's start with three tips for acceptance:

  1. When a change of plans or a difficult emotion comes, let's try not to react immediately, if there is no urgency, why am I going to have to respond NOW
  2. Let's focus on the present moment, I know this sounds very easy but we can try to do it from the capacity of adaptation  trying to be creative in the couple and to look for an alternative.
  3. Communication without criticism.In this blog you will find another article about the horsemen of the apocalypse in the relationship and one of them is the tendency to blame the other. My recommendation is to communicate to look for alternatives but focused on the problem, avoiding criticism, and placing the responsibility or blame on the other person.

Building Bridges ”or create bridges. This is what will keep us together in the relationship and for this, here are examples of some of them:

Communication bridges:  We must take care of the channels and schedules through which we are going to communicate, but also the rules and flexibility within them so as not to generate misunderstandings. Differentiating an appointment even online at a specific time which we must respect and organize as if it were in person, from communication during the day through chats or messages. So that this communication does not produce frustration, we must agree on it, reaching a common agreement in the couple.

Bridges of affection:in the same way that we take care of our plants, maintain cleaning routines at home, or maintain attention to certain details with our clients, we can do it with our relationship. These displays of affection can range from sending messages or details to other simple actions such as preparing a Spotify list depending on the mood of the other person or updating the common one with songs that are meaningful to the couple. Think that what people regret the most at the end of their lives is for not having said or shown what he felt to their loved ones, distance limits us but also offers us opportunities to create more creative and personalized bridges of affection.

Bridges of entertainment: Sharing interests, hobbies, and pleasures are according to different studies one of the key pieces in successful relationships. Although the distance does not allow us to make a route together, spend a weekend, or discover a new restaurant, technology opens the door in a simple way to take care of this bridge. Over the past few months, I have seen fantastic ideas from couples who have virtually travelled online together to destinations they would like to go to, have learned new skills, or even taught each other in different disciplines.

Discovering is always exhilarating, so why not do it together also in the distance. 

Commitment is what guides our persistence, our ability to succeed in the things we value. Even in the most difficult moments, we can try to remain committed to:

  1. Our partners and their well-being
  2. The relationship as a common and constantly growing creation
  3. The previous bridges
  4. Our own emotions, to commit ourselves to accept them and develop compassion towards them, giving ourselves time, calming them, and also taking care of our own well-being.

Returning to the initial statistics ...

In order not to put our relationship at 48%, maybe you cannot change the situation but you can work on acceptance, common bridges, and commitment. 

Leticia Martínez Prado
Division of Psychology, Psychotherapy and Coaching
Leticia Martínez Prado
Psychologist and Coach
Adults and couples
Languages: English and Spanish
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The Four Horsemen Romantic Relationships and How to Manage Them

The Four Horsemen Romantic Relationships and How to Manage Them

When does love end and become friendship?
Is there a time limit or happily ever after?
Why do some couples seem unaffected by the passage of time?
Why do other people repeat the same patterns in different relationships?

These topics are probably nothing new; most of us have discussed the secrets and obstacles of dating relationships on multiple occasions.

It is not surprising that it is one of the topics with the highest demand within psychology sessions or that it is something that worries us and in which we want to work and learn more.

We are social beings and dependent on the group (even for our survival) and probably due to the way we have articulated our relationships throughout the history of humanity, the romantic relationship is the chosen group in which we spend the most hours and in which that more projects we share.

These topics are probably nothing new; most of us have discussed the secrets and obstacles of dating relationships on multiple occasions.

It is not surprising that it is one of the topics with the highest demand within psychology sessions or that it is something that worries us and in which we want to work and learn more.

We are social beings and dependent on the group (even for our survival) and probably due to the way we have articulated our relationships throughout the history of humanity, the romantic relationship is the chosen group in which we spend the most hours and in which that more projects we share.

Studies that try to discover which are the variables related to greater happiness, well-being, and even longevity have shown that, above aspects such as economic, labor, or social class, what most influences our subjective well-being are the relationships we have with other people and more specifically with close family.
How can we not worry about our romantic relationships then? How not to try to learn more about building and maintaining a healthy, exciting, and long-lasting relationship? But above all, how can one not be aware of difficulties and learn to navigate them?

Thanks to advances in fields such as neuroscience, today we know that our brain behaves similarly when it "falls in love" as it does in addictions, we also know that we tend to positively value everything familiar to us and that after a rupture we experience physiological processes similar to those we feel in a grieving process.
For this and many other reasons, it is clear that romantic relationships and, above all, their well-being within them, is more complicated than we thought, from the beginning of the relationship to its maintenance over time.

As a therapist, I consider it fair and fundamental that we recognize and stop trivializing these difficulties since each relationship experiences them, and normalizing them is the first step to get rid of that feeling of "what is the problem with me?" and continue to evolve. This is the main objective of this article, to raise awareness and show common obstacles in couples from current scientific knowledge.

In the classes that I teach in Personality and Individual Differences, we usually talk about the relationship between personality traits, the duration of the relationship, and emotional and sexual well-being. Different studies and meta-analyses have shown aspects such as extraversion (due to the ability to communicate love and needs), openness to experience (which leads us to try new things and learn), awareness, and perseverance (for orientation to long-term goals) positively correlate with maintaining a stable and lasting relationship and with perceived happiness within it.

But we must not forget that all these behavior patterns can be trained and also that they are only correlations, that is, we do not know what was before if the chicken or the egg. Do we show ourselves in the most communicative questionnaires, open to experience, and focused on having a healthy and positive relationship, or are these variables the ones that make us have a satisfactory relationship?

Going deeper into what we know in the field of science as possible keys to a happy couple, we know that at first, we worked on the idea of ​​“Quid Pro Quo”, that is, those people who had a sense of justice in their relationships were better able to last over time than those who did not feel that way.

But thanks to the advances in research and studies such as those of John and Julie Gottman (couples therapists, professors, and researchers at the University of Texas), we know that this need for "equality and justice" only appears in couples when they are already They find themselves going through bad times when they are in a state of alert due to not being comfortable in the relationship.

The Gottman method has shown high efficacy in couples therapy, probably because it approaches the relationship holistically, it focuses on the joint-life history, but also takes into account the learning and personality patterns of each of the members of the couple. Likewise, this method works on behavior, but without neglecting emotional regulation and patterns of thought and interpretation.

What we call the four horsemen of the apocalypse in a romantic relationship have thus been identified, these being the following:

  1. Criticism:An attitude of criticism and centered on blaming the other member of the couple for every little detail or problem, accusing their behavior, personality traits, or aspects of their family and/or life history.
  2. Defensiveness:The tendency not to assume responsibility and to be defensive in the face of possible criticism (which is usually perceived as an attack on my person and not as a behavior to modify). This attitude is closely linked to criticism since in addition to blaming the circumstances, the easiest way for the couple to defend themselves is usually to put the responsibility on the other.
  3. Contempt:A pattern of behavior both behavioral and verbal that delegitimizes or devalues ​​aspects of the other member of the relationship.
  4. “Stone-walling” : The tendency not to establish communicationnot to deal with problems, and / or turn away from them, which in many relationships is perceived by the other member of the couple like turning your back on that person or the relationship.

 Obviously, these 4 riders do not appear simultaneously in all couple problems, but one of them is usually found playing a leading role in the conflict.
It is right here where we find one of the main keys to understand and start working in a positive relationship. We know that the difference between a happy and satisfied couple and another that is not satisfied is not the number of conflicts that appear but their handling since we are capable of making a small conflict a big problem if we let any of these four horsemen between in Game.
But, now that we know a little more about scientific studies, about the evidence, and about these four attitudes as protagonists in romantic problems, what can we do with all this? How do I put it into practice?

  1. Real consciousness:As obvious as it may seem, it is as obvious as it is useful. We must cultivate awareness and try to identify these four horsemen, not only now when reading this article but in our day-to-day relationship. It is important to pause the conflict or before it begins and see if one of these riders is taking the helm and navigating the problem.
  2. Time out:Especially due to the difficulty of the previous point, since when anger, anger, or sadness are very active, it is more difficult for us to become aware and think more coldly.
    Something that we can try to practice is to take time out (it can be to take a walk, go to another room ...) trying to perceive that the problem does not have to be solved NOW and above all that it will not do it if we do not handle it rationally. In many couples, this time out is a source of conflict since there are those who “need” to resolve or conclude immediately. It is therefore important that this technique is consensual and is not interpreted as an estrangement but as an individual space to reflect and then work together again in the relationship.
  3. Emotional regulation:In the same way that we work on managing emotions in the couple, we must do it individually, first being aware of our emotional handicaps (which we all have) and then applying different psychological techniques such as cognitive restructuring, relaxation, acceptance, and subsequent distancing from emotion through mindfulness, self-compassion...
  4. Focus on common goals:Focus attention and behavior on common goals, nothing transcendental in principle, go from less to more, from sharing time together focused on a common interest (a walk, visit, series, talk about a book ) to the joint design of more medium and long-term projects.

As I said at the beginning of this article, our well-being is closely linked to the type of relationships we build, so how not to work on them, and give them the importance they deserve. It is true that our relationships are complicated by the fact of trying to fit two pieces of a puzzle that come with different forms created by the previous life, family models ... but it is also true that the handling of daily conflicts or the fact not handling them ends up being a much greater risk factor for the breakdown or discomfort in the relationship.

How many times have we ruined a pleasant moment or day by expressing ourselves from criticism, contempt, or taking a defensive attitude? How many times have we regretted not having communicated with our partner, having faced a problem, or expressed our needs?

The main problem with handling conflicts in this way is not only the amount of negative affect that we express but since time is limited and the day continues to have 24 hours and the week seven days, we are left with much less space to share positive affect and to enjoy the relationship.

Leticia Martínez Prado
Division of Psychology, Psychotherapy and Coaching
Leticia Martínez Prado
Psychologist and Coach
Adults and couples
Languages: English and Spanish
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Cuidar de Los Que Nos Cuidan

Cuidar de Los Que Nos Cuidan

El deterioro cognitivo y otras enfermedades neurodegenerativas son cada vez más prevalentes en nuestra población actual, una población más longeva pero también con mayores niveles de estrés y desconexión del momento presente.

Cada vez más personas somos conscientes de estas problemáticas pero hoy vamos a hablar de otro colectivo, un colectivo a veces silencioso (o silenciado), un colectivo que disfruta, pero también sufre y que es tan demandado como necesario.

Hablamos del rol del cuidador o cuidadora, esa persona que acompaña en el día a día a quien sufre alguna dificultad como el Alzheimer y en la que diferentes estudios han mostrado la alta frecuencia con que padecen “burn-out”, es decir, el síndrome de agotamiento y estrés laboral, problemas de ansiedad y de estado de ánimo o depresión.

Obviamente el bienestar psicológico de esta profesión está altamente relacionado con otras personas: a la que cuida, la familia de esta y su familia o relaciones personales fuera del trabajo.

Desde Sinews queremos prestar especial atención a esta dinámica interpersonal ya que será una profesión cada vez más necesaria, importante y probablemente a la que muchos o nos dedicaremos de una u otra manera o de la que seremos clientes en un futuro. Vamos a ello, por tanto.

Como si de una pieza de piano se tratase, para que la melodía de la relación entre cuidador/a y cuidado/a suene tranquila, agradable y llena de bienestar hay al menos tres acordes que debemos de tocar:

1. El vínculo personal

Cuando trabajamos con personas debemos priorizar la importancia del vínculo terapéutico, por ello es importante que más allá de las labores diarias como cuidador/a se reserve un tiempo para conocerse, tanto con el resto de la familia como con la persona a la que se acompaña.

Conocer la historia de vida, los intereses personales, gustos y también las dificultades por las que pasamos nos ayuda a ser más empáticos, a entender mejor los comportamientos inesperados y las emociones.

Además poder compartir actividades e historias es una de las mejores formas de trabajar la estimulación cognitiva.

Conseguimos un 2×1 en este caso, reforzar el triángulo familia-persona acompañada-cuidador/a mejorando el bienestar y la comprensión en esta relación interpersonal y por otro lado se podrán estar trabajando áreas como la estimulación verbal, procedimental y de la memoria.

¿Cómo hacerlo?

Estableciendo un tiempo tanto al comienzo de la relación para conocerse como durante la misma, pequeños encuentros semanales dentro de la rutina o pequeñas actividades diarias en las que se comparta conversación o actividades placenteras para ambas partes.

2. La desconexión y el descanso

Precisamente por la alta carga física y emocional de esta profesión es necesario respetar los horarios de descanso del profesional, asegurando dos tipos de tiempos, uno para el descanso y la recuperación y otro para que ya recuperados puedan disfrutar de su vida personal, familia y otras actividades placenteras y significativas para ellos. 

Aunque esto parezca obvio debido a la actividad frenética del día a día y a las facilidades que nos proveen las herramientas de comunicación instantánea no es siempre tan sencillo de llevar a la práctica.

La desconexión (lo cual implica como decíamos tanto descanso como tiempo para disfrutar de la vida personal) es una de las variables que más peso tienen en la satisfacción laboral y especialmente por el trabajo que realiza el cuidador/a debemos de prestarle especial atención.

¿Cómo hacerlo?

Durante el año laboral: Acordar entre las partes periodos de vacaciones.

Durante la semana: Contar al menos con dos días consecutivos de descanso y desconexión de las tareas de cuidador/a.

En el día a día: Respetar los horarios de finalización de tareas asegurando unas horas de desconexión laboral.

Pero ¡OJO! no olvidemos en qué consiste respetar esta desconexión:

  1. En caso de que la persona que cuida sea un miembro de la familia, el resto de ella deberá organizarse para asegurar los puntos anteriores, en caso de ser una persona contratada se deberá asegurar una sustitución.
  2. Cuidar no es solo la tarea en sí sino también la logística, por tanto esto debe quedar realizado dentro de las horas de cuidado, evitando así enviar mensajes o llamadas habituales para sobre citas, procedimientos, qué hacer…Evitemos por tanto la comunicación fuera de las horas de cuidado y respetemos el tiempo de desconexión y descanso.
  3. En cuanto a la persona que cuida, te animamos a que te concedas esa desconexión y que compartas con tu familia o círculo social lo importante que es ese tiempo para ti, tanto para descansar como para disfrutar de tu vida personal y otras actividades placenteras o de ocio.

3. El propósito de la tarea

Otra de las variables que han mostrado mayor peso en la satisfacción tanto laboral como en la satisfacción con vida en números estudios es el sentido por el que hacemos las cosas, es decir el propósito de nuestro día a día y de nuestras tareas.

El rol de cuidador/a puede llegar a ser muy rutinario pero podemos tratar de establecer objetivos como la estimulación física y cognitiva y el bienestar general de la persona cuidada. Para ello será especialmente relevante el punto uno, conocer con qué disfruta o disfrutaba esa persona antes de la aparición del Alzheimer. Las capacidades que se conservan durante más tiempo a pesar de la enfermedad neurodegenerativa son las procedimentales (como la cocina, tocar un instrumento, dibujar, la artesanía…).

¿Cómo hacerlo?

Podemos por tanto establecer actividades diarias enfocadas en ese bienestar emocional y estimulación cognitiva, con el objetivo de reforzar ciertas capacidades, como decíamos anteriormente esto además mejorará el vínculo interpersonal.

Estos momentos diarios o semanales en los que se comparte un café o comida y se intercambian historias de vida o que se realiza algo placentero y procedimental marcarán la diferencia en cuanto al propósito del trabajo y permitirán un tiempo más creativo y emocional dentro de la jornada de cuidado. 

No nos olvidemos tampoco del papel de la GRATITUD al respecto, como bien sabemos toda conducta reforzada tiende a consolidarse. Reconocer el trabajo y los objetivos del cuidador/a no solo de manera económica sino con tiempo de descanso o simplemente a nivel verbal mejorará la relación y por tanto el bienestar de todas las partes.

Un breve resumen gráfico para recordar esto y que nos ayudará a ponerlo en práctica

Cuidar de Los Que Nos Cuidan
Leticia Martínez Prado
Division of Psychology, Psychotherapy and Coaching
Leticia Martínez Prado
Psychologist and Coach
Adults and couples
Languages: English and Spanish
See Resumé

Diary of a Global Therapist Part 4

Diary of a Global Therapist Part 4

It has been three months since the last post in which I shared my experiences working with expats from different parts of the world.

Three months of uncertainty, of continuing to hear very different stories, and of working hand in hand in managing difficulties.

They have also been three months marked by many changes, some due to the COVID-19 pandemic and others to social movements. But of course, a time in which we have not stopped working and learning.

From Sinews (and I imagine that from anywhere) we have been aware of two important and relevant changes in the day-to-day life of international companies and institutions, on the one hand teleworking and on the other the importance of respecting and empowering diversity.

Teleworking seems to have come to stay and that as a country we are approaching the European percentage of working hours from home. Although we are beginning to envision a new law to regulate it, there is much work to be done to get the most out of this new alternative.

A few weeks ago I was talking with an employee of a multinational in one of our follow-up and emotional support sessions about this new situation and it seemed very representative of what many of us live today, perhaps even because I felt deeply identified.

The employee we will call Mrs. P is working outside her home country. In her case, she has the company of her partner and children, which on the one hand appreciates and enjoys the time she can spend with them thanks to saving it on work-home transfers, but on the other hand, it has made her face difficulties, such and as she verbalized “We have been used to having a routine for so many years in which I travel, work and he takes care of the paperwork, the house, the transfers, that this situation has been almost like starting to know other parts of our relationship ”.

Mrs. P has not faced major problems with her partner, but she has experienced situations in which she has had to manage both her time and stress levels. As we mentioned in our session, despite the benefits of working from home, there are weeks in which “a waterfall of difficulties” arise in different areas.

This is how we address the importance of maintaining routines and setting limits to work. I think we have all heard a lot about this topic and about the difficulty of disconnecting when we work from home, but if we want to tackle it we should go further: what is it that makes me not disconnect, not respecting certain limits that I create myself?

For some people it may be the uncertainty and fear of the future job, for others, they need for recognition, certain personal beliefs, judgments ... or as in the case of Mrs. P the need to have everything under control, to "micro-evaluate" every detail, every possible little achievement or failure.

In our biweekly session, we talked about it and how to handle it, as well as about trying to train a kinder and more assertive communication with your family when time is required "as if by being at home you are not working" in her own words.

The session is interesting because of how representative it is of what many of us feel while teleworking, but also because it can normalize these difficulties and emotions.

I decided to write this post because the same day that I had the session with Mrs. P, in the afternoon I connected again to our online platform for the first interview with another employee of a multinational, whom we will call Mr. Q and after the two sessions I thought how much our current work and social panorama showed.

With Mr. Q I had the opportunity to address the discomfort and difficulties that he anticipated in his next project due to working with a very diverse team.

It seemed extremely sincere to me, we all know the virtues of diversity, as the famous Italian phrase "Il mondo è bello perchè è vario" quotes (the world is beautiful thanks to its variety), but this diversity is not free from difficulties and bad times.

If we want to enjoy and respect these differences, the first thing we must do is be aware of the biases we have, such as familiarity, we all tend to better evaluate what is known to us, or self-serving or group biases. , for which we will always make judgments that benefit our group and our own identity.

There begins the true work of respect and appreciation, acknowledging our evaluations, prejudices, and behaviors.

Mr. Q had a bad experience in the past with a language-related issue and acknowledges that it affects him emotionally. On the one hand, it makes him angry at the fact that he is judged for "a simple set quote" and on the other hand, it makes him feel tense in case this happens again.

During our session, we work on that discomfort and how to regulate it.

It is normal that we feel angry or in need of reaffirming our position since as Mr. Q says “I feel judged and I have to defend myself”, but I can differentiate between reacting or responding.

That is, before letting my anger and defensiveness grow I can try to give myself some extra time and to turn down the volume of my emotion in order to respond in a more rational way. Emotional regulation exercises through psycho-education, Mindfulness, and relaxation are very useful for professionals and people who work in diverse environments.

We also work not only on how to reduce discomfort and manage those difficult emotions but also on learning from the positive, that is, from the amplification of our personal strengths. Mr. Q considers himself an empathic person, in fact, he assures that his friends and family would describe him as someone who "knows how to listen".

So why not take advantage of that strength you already have? When the idea of ​​another person or their position collides with ours and makes us feel uncomfortable, we can always turn our attention to curiosity and empathy. This is one of the practical exercises that I propose to Mr. Q:

  1. Identify the discomfort, accept it and try to "turn down its volume"

  1. Putting ourselves in the shoes of a researcher, asking the other person, gathering information, and finally trying to understand why they feel this way.

As we discussed in our session, these exercises help us not only to improve our emotional regulation in interpersonal situations but also to cultivate an open and empathetic mind.

We conclude the interview with a series of practical guidelines for the real management of diversity and with the possibility of having another session if necessary. 

As I said at the beginning of this post, these two sessions are very representative of the problems that we currently encounter and of which we are increasingly aware of our services to international companies, educational institutions, and individuals.

For this reason, at Sinews we work to develop programs aimed at continuing to grow in this digital and inclusive “new normality”.

I finished that working day, before going on a well-deserved vacation that would last three weeks, writing the report for Mr. Q, in which in addition to detailing some practical recommendations, I recommended the wonderful book "Talking to Strangers" by Malcolm Gladwell.

Back at work and remembering those two sessions I realize that this September is different but also a new beginning in terms of opportunities and challenges in the area of ​​mental and organizational health.

Leticia Martínez Prado
Division of Psychology, Psychotherapy and Coaching
Leticia Martínez Prado
Psychologist and Coach
Adults and couples
Languages: English and Spanish
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On Children and Gratitude

On Children and Gratitude

How many of us can think back to our childhood days and remember our parents, grandparents and even early-years teachers urging us to say thank you when we were presented with a gift, a nice gesture or a helping hand?

I certainly remember that showing appreciation and being thankful was tremendously important for the grown-ups around me. With time, I understood that people felt good when I said thank you to them, but before empathy entered the picture, thankfulness felt like one of those things I had to do, one more rule to go by: Saying thank you was equivalent to being polite.

Politeness was and continues to be a highly valued quality among humans. One to make sure our children possess and carry with them. After all, if we stop to really be honest for a moment, we can agree that politeness speaks well of the child that practices it, while also singing hidden praises to the caregivers responsible for that child. We could agree that it is a social skill that opens doors. A win-win all around. But in this case, politesse is merely one small part of a much bigger stance: Gratitude.

And if we were conscious about the psychological weight of gratitude as general value, we would be less concerned with mere politeness. Harvesting gratitude would then become a must (something just as important as promoting mathematical dexterity, if not more).

In general terms, gratitude is associated with the capability of being thankful, but because gratitude has been the subject of psychological interest for many years, we now know that it is a little bit more complex than that.

Robert Emmons, a Professor of Psychology at the University of California, considered one of the leading scientific experts on gratitude, approaches it as a two-stage process:

According to Emmons, the first stage consists of the “acknowledgment of goodness in one's life”.

Gratefulness -therefore- begins, when someone stops to be aware of the fact that they have received something (whether it be recently or long ago).

The Second part of the process consists of the recognition that the “source (s) of this goodness lie, at least partially, outside the self”. It is then safe to say that Gratitude is directly related to humility: We are conscious of the fact that something or someone, provided us with something and that something contributed to our well-being. 

To me, it all sounds like a big gift. A magical process in which we can appreciate goodness in our own existence and contact with positive emotions along the way. But that isn´t all there is to it. Experiments in the gratitude realm have directly linked it to a more optimistic look on life, increased sense of connectedness to others, longer and better quality of sleep time and fewer reported physical symptoms such as pain. (From an interview to Mr. Robert Emmons published in the SharpBrains blog on 2007).

So how can we teach our children the attitude of gratitude, which holds and includes politeness but transcends it?

  • Model it. Behavioralist psychologist understood -throughout their investigations many years ago- that visually demonstrating a behavior so that it could be reproduced by the observer, was a key part of the learning experience. Is therefore safe to conclude that If you wish to cultivate gratefulness, you need to show a child what being grateful looks like. Imagine for example that you go for a walk at a park or in the woods, in the middle of autumn: It is a great opportunity to practice being grateful. You can model excitement about the fact that you get to see all the different shades of yellow, orange and red. You can open your eyes wide, and using an excited tone of voice go into the details of what you can see and are “amazed by”, ending it with a “it´s so cool or its so nice that we get to see this and be here together”.
  • Create a family gratitude ritual. Depending on how the family schedule runs, you can take a moment daily to say what each family member is thankful for (at the dinner table or perhaps after reading the bedtime story…) Depending on the child’s age you will need to use simpler words such as : “I’m happy that today…x”, for example. If schedules are complex and mom can be present at bedtime, for example, but dad can´t, creating a gratitude jar is an option. Assign each family member a color of paper. Throughout the week, when someone is grateful or happy about something, they can write it down and place their piece of paper inside the jar. During the weekend, the family can make it a habit to sit down with some refreshments and read the content of the jar.
  • Promote the overt expression of gratitude using thank you notes/post cards or letters. If you take into considerations Robert Emmons definition of gratitude, you will comprehend that gratitude is active and that it requires thought and intention. By encouraging our children to write thank you notes, we will be helping them to stop and think of the actions and/or gestures that someone directed at them and that were therefore, helpful, allowing them to experience positive emotions. They will also get a chance to see in return, how their words contribute to someone else’s´ emotions and day.

Rocío Fernández Cosme
Division of Psychology, Psychotherapy and Coaching
Rocío Fernández Cosme
Children, adolescents and adults
Languages: English and Spanish
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Hooked to New Technologies

Hooked to New Technologies

When we talk about addiction to new technologies, it is frequent that, automatically, we bring to our mind the image of a boy or girl with any electronic device.

It is not uncommon nowadays to take a look around a restaurant and see parents slow down their children's activity through a device, be it tablet, mobile or other. The effectiveness of this technique is unquestionable.

As a sedative for children and parents, keeping children absorbed in digital activity reduces their activity, as we have been saying, but also our involvement in managing their behaviors. However, the victims - yes, victims - of this strategy are not only children, but also adults, the subject on which this article will focus.

In summary, we could describe addiction to new technologies as the excessive use of electronic devices, added to the need to use them when we have been a long time (or not so long, in some cases) away from them, and with a powerful calming function and / or pleasant sensation that is, sometimes, difficult to recognize.

In the era of hyperconnectivity, it is expected that many of our activities will be done through new technologies like meeting our friends, getting informed about something quickly or buying a product in a matter of seconds. The utility is more than evident.

However, the dark side of this utility lies in the immediacy of the reward, reinforcement or satisfaction. We feel calmer when we get a response from our partner in the moment instead of waiting to see each other. We feel especially recognized when the “likes” grow like foam and we can observe this very satisfactory phenomenon in real time. We feel more in control being able to go immediately to information that solves a question of the moment. Ultimately, the promptness of the response takes on a strong tint of reward. This of course is far from being harmless..

It is necessary to make a brief explanation of our brain mechanisms to understand how the matter in question works, and, for this, we will refer to the reward mechanism of our brain. This system is part of our "primitive brain".This implies that it bears a strong relationship with animal survival, as it “informs” about pleasant sensations.

Briefly, the reward circuit locates pleasant stimuli (eg, a good plate of food, a hug, or a drug). The consequence of "accessing" this stimulus is the release of neurotransmitters, like dopamine and serotonin, which produce in us an intense feeling of well-being. Other clear examples are when I get a hug from someone I love, when I buy something through my mobile that I have been craving for a long time, when I get an answer playing a board game -and I persist in the game after that hit-, or when I see a notification from the person I like.

Well, taking into account what has been mentioned above, it is expected that adults obtain that well-being through their mobile devices, in the same way as young people and children.

It also seems interesting to refer to the calm that parents have when they have located their son or daughter thanks to their phone. Immediacy once again plays a fundamental role.

This means that the reinforcement, namely the feeling of calm that we get from knowing where our son or daughter is, makes us go to our phone more frequently to appease unpleasant feelings. It is what we would call a negative reinforcement, whose nuance consists of the reduction of discomfort.Positive reinforcers are distinguished from the previous ones since they provide well-being. An example can be when I order something to eat through my mobile, when I listen to music that I like or I am in contact with the person I crave.

Definitely, no one easily escapes the electronic device trap. In addition, as we said previously, in the era of hyperconnectivity it is paradoxical that we find ourselves increasingly distant and isolated. We are present physically but not mentally. We meet up with our friends but we dedicate a good part of those moments to being aware of things that are not related to the specific moment. I may be having a beer with my best friend but I withdraw from the situation by talking to someone who can be found in Honolulu.

Adults also experience these situations, and it seems pertinent to make special mention of parents: the use of devices and their applications give parents an illusory sense of connection with their children. When they perceive their distancing, parents try to find other ways of communicating with them, and this is where new technologies play an essential role. It is not uncommon to see parents trying to get closer to their children by showing them what they have downloaded to their mobile or the latest joke they have been sent.

The seeking for a more genuine, more intimate and less electronically mediated contact pushes parents to find other ways of access to their sons and daughters, and they may also be caught in the excessive use of these technologies. 

Sinews, Hacemos Fácil lo Difícil
Sinews MTI
Multilingual Therapy Institute
Psychology, Psychiatry and Speech Therapy
Clinic Appointment

Why does my therapist ask me about my childhood and the relationship with my parents? The importance in psychotherapy of exploring early childhood relationships

Why does my therapist ask me about my childhood and the relationship with my parents? The importance in psychotherapy of exploring early childhood relationships

Usually, when we decide to start therapy it is because we have a problem in the present that generates discomfort or pain, and we do not have enough resources to handle the situation adequately. Sometimes the problem may have been in our life for some time (months, years); other times, something sudden happens which makes us seek help immediately. Regardless of the time we have been living with the problem, when we decide to start therapy is when the problem starts to interfere significantly with different areas of our lives (personal, family, work, academic, couple, etc.).

During therapy, our therapist will ask questions to understand how the problem manifests (symptoms), how long we have been living with the problem and how it impacts different areas of our life. Our therapist will also ask questions about our childhood, adolescence and adulthood, but especially, he/she will want to deepen in early childhood experiences with our parents or people whom we grew up with.

Understandably, it is important for our therapist to get to know us, not only in the present, but also know our life trajectory. But, why so much interest in exploring early childhood relationships?

Let’s see the importance of exploring in depth these childhood experiences in order to understand the problems or difficulties we have in the present.

During childhood, through the interaction with people around us and the outside world, we begin to develop specific thought and behavior patterns, coping strategies, emotion regulation skills, as well as mental schemas about how relationships with loved ones or people in the immediate environment work.

Since we are dependent on nearby adults for our survival, when we are kids we will do everything we have to do to keep our parents/caregivers as close as possible to meet our needs (physical, emotional, cognitive, social). So, through the interaction with our parents, we will learn how to behave in order to receive attention, love, and care. This early experiences with our parents/caregivers will establish basic notions about how affective relationships work in terms of care, safety, intimacy and dependency.

Through the interaction with parents/caregivers we will also begin to forge our self-concept based on the things we are valued, rewarded, or loved for; and based on the things we are punished, despised, or abused for. This way, we will begin to develop our self-concept, our opinion of ourselves, in terms of whether we are valid, good enough, or worthy of love/care/attention from the important figures in our lives. Likewise, we will begin to shape our values and belief system, our idea of what is valuable in the world, both with respect to ourselves and with respect to others.

Therefore, our childhood experiences with our parents/caregivers will have a great impact on who we are and how we think, feel and behave in both adolescence and adulthood. Thus, these schemas and patterns acquired in childhood will accompany us throughout our lives.

Obviously, this does not mean that later experiences in other stages of life will not have an impact on our mental schemas and behavioral patterns; for sure, they will do. However, these early experiences with our parents/caregivers will lay the foundation for how we see and deal with the world and interpersonal relationships. This idea is essential in understanding the origin of the problems we may have in the present.

Let's see an example:

If a child has suffered abandonment or neglect during childhood, if he has grown up in an environment where his parents have not been available to meet his needs in a consistent and predictable manner, the child will not feel safe with them. He will grow up feeling that he cannot depend on those close to him and may be afraid of being abandoned, because his experience is that he cannot trust those close to him to be available when needed. Thus, his mental schemas on how affective relationships work will be formed through the interaction with his parents. These schemas will be the foundation for later relationships in life.

As explained before, children will develop certain behaviors to keep their parents as close as possible to increase the chances of having their needs met. In this case, it is likely that this kid will cry inconsolably when separated from his parent in order to avoid separation. It is also likely that he will be upset if his parents pay attention to other people, as this would minimize his chances of having his needs met. Generally, the uncertainty about having our needs met translates into great discomfort, bewilderment, sense of lack of control, and fear of abandonment.

With regard to his self-concept, it is likely that this kid will feel that he is not lovable, that he is not enough, that there is something wrong with him that makes those close to him not to love him or care for him (at a more unconscious level). These self-concept schemas are formed in childhood when children are unable to understand the complex world of adults and the reasons why parents/caregivers do not care for them properly; so, kids usually take responsibility for the lack of attention or care from their parents. Thus, this kid will develop a negative self-concept which, in turn, will have an effect on later relationships and other contexts of life (couple, work, school, etc.).

Accordingly, it is very likely that when this child gets to adulthood, in future relationships, especially in love/intimate relationships, he will keep the same thought and behavior patterns and negative self-concept. In adult relationships this may manifest in jealousy, difficulties in trusting his partner, constant fear of being abandoned, constant anger at his partner for spending time with other people or doing their hobbies, etc. We see that these behaviors are very similar to the behaviors that this person used in childhood to attract attention from his parents/caregivers.

These thought and behavior patterns are usually maintained independently of the partner’s behavior, because the mental schemas on how relationship work that were developed in childhood will still have an impact on the present. Even if his partner never gives any sign of abandonment, this person would still be afraid of it because he grew up with the expectation that those close to him will not be reliable and will leave at some point. With regard to the self-concept, this person will continue to feel that he is not enough and will not understand why his partner wants to be with him; hence, his fear of abandonment.

Thus, we see how these relationship schemas acquired in childhood, mainly in the family context, will accompany this person throughout his life and will be transferred to other contexts and other people.

In this particular case, his thought and behavior patterns will probably lead to high levels of anxiety and depressive symptoms, in addition to a great deal of conflict and discomfort within the couple. These problems will be the main motives for this person to seek therapy. Hence, we see how the problems this person is currently having have their roots in his early relationships with his parents.

For this reason, in therapy we will always explore childhood relationships. In therapy will connect the present and the past, and we will see how current difficulties relate to past experiences and to ways of functioning in the world that we learned in childhood.

At the beginning of the treatment we will address the symptoms and difficulties we experience in the present, providing an understanding about the origin and maintenance of the problems and providing tools to manage these difficulties. Later, we will address deeper issues that will lead us to question our thought/behavioral patterns, relationship schemas, beliefs and values; which were established in childhood and constitutes the roots of our problems in the present. As a result of this questioning process, we will replace these schemas with other ones, more adaptive and more adjusted to reality. This will have a positive impact on our current way of thinking, feeling and behaving, and will improve our mood and quality of life.

Amanda Blanco Carranza
Division of Psychology, Psychotherapy and Coaching
Amanda Blanco Carranza
Languages: English and Spanish
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Tools for identifying and expressing emotions

Tools for identifying and expressing emotions

Why is it important to identify and express emotions properly?

Emotions provide important information about what is happening around us, how external events affect us and what they mean to us. Emotions also inform about the impact of internal events such as thoughts or physiological responses. Therefore, emotional responses to external or internal events are guides to our behavior, set us to behave in one way or another, tell us what to do depending on the emotion we are feeling.

If we do not know how to properly identify the emotions we feel, it is very likely that we will have difficulty managing our feelings, reflecting on why we feel the way we do and what we need to do to change our emotional state. Therefore, it is very important that we know how to identify emotions properly and to observe to which thoughts they are related to, so that we can make decisions to manage our emotions and respond to the situation we are facing.

The skills to identify and express emotions need to be fostered in childhood so that children develop an emotional system that allows them to manage and handle emotions properly. However, sometimes, these skills have not been adequately developed during this stage of life and we see adults with difficulties in identifying, expressing and managing their emotions. Sometimes, people with these difficulties can only determine if they feel "good", "so so" or "bad", but they do not know how to identify exactly what emotion they are feeling. At other times, they are able to differentiate between basic emotions (such as joy, sadness, fear, anger, disgust, and surprise), but have difficulty being more specific with more complex emotional states.

Below are some tools and resources that can be helpful in developing the skills to identify and express emotions. All of them can be used with adults, and some of them, with children, depending on their level of emotional development.

Circle of emotions

Tools for identifying and expressing emotions

The Circle of emotions is a very useful tool to identify and name emotions. This circle is composed by the name of different emotions, which are categorized into basic emotions, in the inner part of the circle, and more specific and complex emotions, in the outer part of the circle.

The Circle of emotions provides rich and precise vocabulary to identify and name emotions. Sometimes it is necessary to go deeper into the meaning of the more complex emotions to learn to differentiate between similar but different emotions within the same emotional category (for example, differences between being apathetic or indifferent).

Along with naming and describing emotions, it is also very important to identify where in the body this emotion is located and how it feels (e.g., "when I feel angry I feel my forehead shrink and I feel pressure in my head and my chest"; "when I feel scared I feel it in the pit of my stomach"). Locating the emotion in the body helps in the process of identifying the emotions.

In addition, it is important to investigate the thoughts and behaviors associated with emotions, so that we understand the cause of our emotions and how they influence our thoughts and behavior, and vice versa.

Periodic table of human emotions

Tools for identifying and expressing emotions

The Periodic table of human emotions is a tool similar to the circle of emotions, which has the same goal: identifying and naming emotions. In this case, we also find different emotional categories, which in turn are divided into more specific emotions.

This tool is recommended when the abilities to identify and name emotions are somewhat limited. If that is the case, it may be more useful to start by using the periodic table instead of the circle of emotions, because it contains fewer emotions, and these are less complex than those found in the circle.  

As we did with the circle of emotions, part of the process of identifying and naming emotions involves locating the emotion in the body, and exploring the thoughts and behaviors associated with the emotion.

Book “Emocionario” by Cristina Núñez (only available in Spanish)

Tools for identifying and expressing emotions

The Emocionario is a book that contains the description and graphic representation of a great variety of emotions and feelings. This book can be considered an emotional dictionary.

It is a very useful book to learn how to identify emotions adequately, since not only describes the different emotional states, but also helps to distinguish between them by showing how some emotions are related to others and explaining the possible causes of emotions.

This book is mainly targeted towards children. However, it is also a very useful resource for adults who have difficulties identifying their emotions. Therefore, this book is highly recommended for anyone involved in children's education (e.g., parents, teachers, etc.), and for adults who want to deepen and improve their emotional skills.

The simplicity and concreteness with which the different emotions are described makes this book a great tool for identifying and expressing emotions, both in and outside therapy.

Books “El laberinto del alma – The Labyrinth of the Soul ” and “Diario de emociones – Emotion’s diary” by Anna Llenas (only available in Spanish)

El Laberinto del Alma – The Labyrinth of the Soul is another reference book for identifying emotions and feelings. This book, like the Emocionario, is also considered an emotional dictionary, but unlike this one, El Laberinto del Alma is aimed at adults and adolescents, as it describes feelings of greater emotional complexity (for example: bonding, empathy, abandonment, toxicity, emotional blindness, etc.).

Especially interesting are the graphic representations accompanying the description of each of the emotions/feelings presented in the book, since they capture in a very precise way the essence of the emotion described.

The graphic representation of emotions is a very important resource to help develop the skills to identify and express emotions, because on many occasions, images are more powerful when it comes to transmitting what the person is feeling, than just identifying and naming the emotion.  

Precisely, it is the graphic representation of emotions what is targeted in the book Diario de emociones – Emotion’s diary. This book is composed of different exercises to identify and express emotional states. Among them we can find exercises to connect with different emotions and draw them (e.g., "listen to a sad song and let yourself go" expressing graphically how it makes you feel); exercises to locate the emotion in the body and color it with the color that represents that emotion for us; exercises to express of our fears; etc.

The emotional expression through drawings, images, and colors besides facilitating the identification of emotions is also a therapeutic tool of great value in the process of managing and channeling emotions. Therefore, Diario de emociones is a highly recommended book to explore our emotional world and our way of expressing how we feel.

Dixit cards

Tools for identifying and expressing emotions

The phrase "A picture is worth a thousand words" is especially applicable in the case of the expression of emotions, as sometimes pictures can capture the emotional world much more accurately than words themselves. 

Sometimes it is difficult to put into words what we are feeling, because we may not know what we are feeling, or we may not have precise vocabulary to describe the complexity of our emotional world. For this reason, the cards of the board game Dixit can be a great resource to help develop or improve the skills to identify and express emotions.

These cards are composed of a great variety of images, which besides having great aesthetic value, are very symbolic and have lots of details, so they are very useful to represent the variety and complexity of emotional states, including representing the thoughts associated with those emotions.

Obviously, the meaning that each person attributes to each image is subjective; that is, an image can represent one emotion or emotions for one person and represent different emotions for another. That is why it is very important to use this tool so that the person can explain what it means to him or her. It is especially important that in this process we explore thoughts and behaviors associated with the images of the cards.

It is highly recommended to combine the Dixit cards with the circle of emotions or the periodic table of human emotions, so that the images represented in the cards are paired with the name of emotions.

Therefore, the use of Dixit cards is especially useful for people who have difficulty identifying emotions or for those who only have the ability to differentiate between basic emotions.

Drawings, collages and play dough

Other resources to help in the process of identifying and expressing emotions can be drawings, collages or the representation of emotions with play dough. These resources are very interesting as a means of shaping and externalizing the emotional world, and as a means of managing and channeling emotions.

The combined use of graphic representations with other resources for naming emotions, such as the circle of emotions or dictionaries of emotions, can be of great help to improve the abilities to identify and express emotions. As with other tools, it is very important to explore thoughts and behaviors associated with emotions, and to identify the part of the body where they are located.

The tools and resources described can be used by therapists and other professionals (teachers, educators, etc.), as well as by anyone who wants to improve their skills to identify and express their emotions.

When working with the emotional world, it is very important to be creative and have a variety of tools that facilitate the process of identification and expression of emotions, with adults as well as with children, and of course, always adapting the resources to the level of emotional development that the person presents.

Amanda Blanco Carranza
Division of Psychology, Psychotherapy and Coaching
Amanda Blanco Carranza
Languages: English and Spanish
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