Separate, Embrace, & Evaluate

We all encounter predictable struggles that cause emotion. We can influence our emotions by using VP’s Expect the Expected – which is realizing there will be challenges like traffic, difficult people, and periods of struggle.  

Even when we align our expectations with reality we will experience emotion. This is a good thing because emotions are automatic chemical projections designed to help us. And they will help if we apply SEE, which is to separate, embrace, and evaluate.

To Separate is to be aware that we are not our emotions. Emotions result from chemicals released by the mind.

To Embrace emotion means to experience it knowing that it’s temporary and there to help us.

If we’re upset and someone tells us, “Calm down, you’re overreacting,” it makes us more upset. If they validate our feelings, we calm down. Embracing is validating the emotion for yourself. Your brain produced the emotion and embracing is telling your brain that it did the right thing.

To Evaluate is to consider a productive response to the situation that caused the emotion.

Separating and embracing allow us to switch from our emotional brain to our thinking mind. This enables us to use logic even if we’re still experiencing emotion.

Let’s use an example of applying SEE to the emotion of feeling overwhelmed.

Separate – You didn’t decide to be overwhelmed, your brain projected a chemical to make you feel that way. It’s a message that says, “you have a lot to do!”

Embrace – Of course your brain alerts you when there’s a lot going on. Thank your brain for the message and experience the emotion knowing it’s temporary and can motivate you to act.

Evaluate – Even if you still feel overwhelmed, consider what you need to do. You can prioritize, ask for help, ask for more time, or start working on your to-do list.

It will take time to implement SEE, but it will greatly improve your emotional state if you stick with it.

Check out the TED Talks by Dr. Kelly McGonigal and Dr. Susan David to learn more about the science of embracing emotions.