Arthur Allen wrote a fascinating introduction to technology that tells us how we’re feeling. He describes some remarkable situations in which tech can foster our capacity to understand our emotional experiences and learn from them. He also discusses ways in which we can use this technology to learn about the emotional experiences of those around us and how to support them.
One great example is the teacher who observes the student seemingly resting on the floor when he ‘should’ be in his seat. Her typical response might be to chide her student for not following directions. With technology that monitors his physiological cues about his emotional experience, she learns he’s experiencing anxiety and is likely resting on the floor to calm himself down, regulate his emotions, a major educational goal for any classroom. The teacher, with this information, is likely to have a more tailored, compassionate response to that individual student’s needs at that moment.
I regularly hear from clients how hard it is to remember at home the tools and strategies we work on in counseling sessions to ‘raise a red flag’ when things are getting heated. In the safe, supportive setting of my office, clients can easily slow down and identify on their own when their bodies are telling them they\re angry, defensive or withdrawing from the conversation. One challenging task is to ‘universalize’ that skill to their home, their workplace, or wherever they’re parenting (the car, the park, the kitchen).
It takes practice and perseverance to build the kind of mindful body awareness to recognize in the moment that there’s a signal. It’s another task to understand our body’s signals to us. No matter how many effective ways we learn to express ourselves, if we don’t recognize when to use them, we never will. I help clients achieve these tasks so they can use their new skills at home before the situation gets heated.
This technology hints at promising tools for this learning process: external indicators of our internal processes. When a bracelet senses we’re scared, it might alert us through a buzz before we flee in panic. When a ring senses we’re agitated, it might alert us with a ping so we catch ourselves, calm down through breathing, before we say something we’ll regret.
The key will be to use this tech as a tool to re-connect with our internal sensors – blood pressure, sweat, breathing – rather than using this technology as a replacement. We can use it the same way I encourage clients who use medication: as a tool to manage symptoms while learning more effective internal strategies to address the symptoms on your own, rather than depending on a medication forever.
My work is helping clients feel more connected to themselves, to use their bodies as the messengers they are, and to use this connection to improve their interactions with others and foster their relationships.
Call me to learn more about how I help clients achieve well being in life and in relationships: 720-468-0676, or visit www.lebauercounseling.com You can also see my videos with tips and strategies.