I have updated the PDF worksheet for emotional first-aid that I first posted about here, which I have designed mostly for my own use but am sharing here because it might be helpful for others. You can download the worksheet directly here, and see the Resources page for other tools that can be used for emotional self-care and balance. I have added there some resources for cultivating emotional balance:
we can start developing our emotional vocabulary with reference to the Ekmans’ Atlas of Emotions, which is associated with the Cultivating Emotional Balance training that was commissioned by the Dalai Lama. Using the Atlas can help us to “map” an emotional episode so that when it happens again we are better able to navigate it.
I use the emotional first-aid worksheet to process emotional episodes in a healthy, supported and self-guided way, as a practice of self-soothing and -regulation. Here are the .odt and .docx files if you want to modify the worksheet for your personal use. It is an ever-evolving worksheet – I have never used it the same way twice, and as I learn more about emotional balance I am adding new ideas to the document.
In this version I have added a section for reflecting on whether the emotional experience was balanced or imbalanced, using a model I have learnt through the Cultivating Emotional Balance training program, according to which, emotional balance is:
- the appropriate emotion,
- felt with appropriate intensity
- and appropriate expression,
- at the appropriate moment.
To make an obvious example, it would not be emotionally balanced to laugh manically and start peeling potatoes at the scene of a horrendous car accident.
I have also elaborated on the RAIN meditation in the Self-care section of the worksheet. This meditation helps us to:
the emotions we have experienced
Accept or Allow
that we have experienced them, rather than suppressing them
the experience of these emotions, to see for example whether they have triggered cognitive distortions or whether they were balanced
ourselves, because probably we are coming to RAIN because we have experienced some affliction and if so it’s time for some compassion and forgiveness
Tara Brach has a very good guided RAIN meditation that you can find on Insight Timer here. If you don’t have Insight Timer, here is a link to where you can download an mp3.
The worksheet guides you through asking, What sort of things did you think, feel and do before, during and after the emotional episode?
Then there are some prompts for self-care and emotional first-aid you can try, and some reflection questions about things like, What are you grateful to have learnt from this experience?
I’m proud of this resource because it has helped me a number of times already when I needed to change the narrative around some event that was emotionally distressing. The worksheet is inspired by the work of Guy Winch, which was my introduction to this practice.