How do you feel? How do you feel after talking to your child, your coworker, your doctor? What do you do when feelings arise that you would rather not experience? We sometimes think it is more important to educate ourselves on a professional level than in being more ourselves and feeling safe in our inner experience. In this book the creator of the Gefühlsmonster® cards pleads for more engagement with one’s own feelings, to put on the scientist’s hat, so to speak, exploring one’s own feelings. She shows that we can influence what we feel, that it is important to understand how our feelings work, and to have a toolbox ready for the challenging situations in our lives. The goal is to make you a happier and more balanced person. It provides you with clear information about your feelings. Mrs. Höch-Corona takes you by the hand, helping you to understand more about your feelings and challenges. She tells you how to take a closer look at and transform problematic areas, like inner critics or limiting beliefs. The exercises for crisis situations and a collection of strengthening rituals you find in this book are easy to understand and will help you feel more secure within your own experience.
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Sometimes feelings are monsters
Self management with feeling
Copyright: © 2021 Lilli Höch-Corona
Editing: Erik Kinting – www.buchlektorat.net
Illustrations: Christian Corona
Cover & typesetting: Sabine Abels
Cover image using a depositphotos graphic from Sabelskaya
Translation from German: Willow Toccata and Lilli Höch-Corona
Excerpts from Vivian Dittmar’s books courtesy of the author.
Publisher and printer:
The work, including its parts, is protected by copyright. Any utilization is prohibited without the consent of the publisher and the author. This applies in particular to electronic or other reproduction, translation, distribution and making available to the public.
Bibliographic Information of the German National Library:
The German National Library lists this publication in the German National Bibliography; detailed bibliographic data are available on the Internet at http://dnb.d-nb.de.
This book has been written by the creator of the Gefühlsmonster® cards and illustrated by the Gefühlsmonsters’ artist, Christian Corona. As means of illustration we will be using the Gefühlsmonster® cards in the exercises. You can also use the free online-Gefühlsmonster-tool-box1 for these exercises.
A comment on gendering: In some cases, gendering causes quite complicated sentence structures. To avoid confusion I will be using the pronouns they and them for all genders.
2 To think about how our brain works
4 Body exercises
5 Personal Wellbeing
6 Emergency Toolbox
7 New Ways
8 Dealing with others
The names of the chapters are categories like feelings, body exercises, to think about etc. The exercises in the individual chapters sometimes also contain elements from other categories. In this case you will find several icons so that you can easily find your way around.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
How do we feel?
This is how it feels
Feelings the other way round
Capturing fleeting positive feelings
Feelings as social forces
2 TO THINK ABOUT – HOW OUR BRAIN WORKS
Talking about feelings helps
Thoughts generate feelings
Good or bad?
3 WHAT GETS US DOWN
Guarding the words
4 BODY EXERCISES
Shoulders and breathing
Staying on track
A hair on the tooth
5 PERSONAL WELLBEING
Become more aware
Reflecting on social relationships
Three questions as a morning ritual
6 EMERGENCY TOOLBOX
O – M – G
Stop getting overwhelmed
Aha, a thought!
Emotional chaos and values
Oh no, challenging feelings again
Time for feelings
7 NEW WAYS
Gratitude again – rephrased
Mindset – re-evaluating situations
The other way round?
Why it can be helpful to ask yourself “for what" instead of “why"
Intermediate: Inner security
8 DEALING WITH OTHERS
Difference – The island model
Feelings and needs
For my family
Preface for the English translation
Why am I publishing this book in English?
I have always loved being able to communicate in more than one language. It began with a student exchange stay in England 1966, three beautiful holidays in France (1967–1972) as an Au Pair, and summer jobs in London and Paris. One of my life’s highlights was an Interrail trip in 1970 from Germany all around Europe. I managed to see Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Lapland, France, Spain and Portugal all in four weeks! One of the things that stood out for me was my realization that there are kind and helpful people everywhere.
So when I met my Italian future husband during a vacation on Sardinia in 1975 I happily used my French and Latin skills to communicate with him and learned Italian relatively quickly. Our children learned both of our languages from day one, because I wanted them to be able to communicate with their Italian relatives while being raised in Germany. Later on, to my great delight, they learned several other languages with ease.
For the last 45 years it has been normal for me to live in two cultures. I have experienced raising children in Sardinia and in Germany and I learned to find solutions where we were different. I learned to value the delicious and long Sardinian meals and, interestingly enough unlike many other children, ours never complained about these big family dinners. The fact that I have come to know and love mediation, negotiating between different opinions and points of view, certainly has to do with this very lifestyle.
My studies in Process-oriented Psychology got me in touch with people from all over the world, something I still experience as a great enrichment.
Now, what does all this have to do with feelings?
The two cultures I experienced could’nt be more different in how and with what intensity they express emotions. Through my husband’s Sardinian family I got to know a more expressive way of dealing with feelings and embracing each other emotionally.
16 years experience with the Gefühlsmonsters have taught me how beneficial it is when conversations about feelings become more lighthearted, when even difficult topics sometimes can take on a humorous side with the monster cards.
My vision is that the Gefühlsmonsters become a language, a language that supports mutual understanding everywhere. In this book I explain, that before you can build up mutual understanding you first need to know your own feelings. More about that later.
Because English is a world language, and after publishing the book “Feelings with Empathy” in English, it is now my very special pleasure to present my heart's project, “Sometimes Feelings are Monsters”, to all of my family, all of our friends and all of the Gefühlsmonster friends we have made by now – and their friends, …
Hopefully, with all of this work on our emotions, we will get to know ourselves better, and on this basis treat each other better in as many places on earth as possible.
Originally I didn’t want to mention the current situation because this book was written long before the COVID 19 pandemic and will be useful beyond the pandemic. Yet, this challenging time dominates all of our thoughts and feelings so I decided to comment after all:
I think it could help us a lot right now if we used all our ingenuity, all our skills and experiences, to imagine and work towards a better future. To find people with whom we work together on developing ideas and solutions that make a difference. If you look closely you will see that this is already taking place in many areas. People are getting together in huge hackathons, because they want to contribute and others are going above and beyond their usual work expectations despite difficult conditions. They are helping neighbors, working on solutions to current problems …
The most important message in my book is that we can influence what we feel, and that it is important to understand how our feelings work. Through this knowledge and its implementation we have influence over further evolution in our world. Basically my theory is that if each of us is in touch with their own feelings and focuses on what brings them joy, we will automatically become who we are meant to be. Because from a place of joy we are able to be productive and capable, we feel connected to people, nature, and the world, and treat each other mindfully and compassionately.
Berlin, January 6th 2021
I am a collector of things and information that I find useful or that someone else might need. You can imagine that storing red glass heart buttons from children’s clothes, old Nivea tins, and historical recipe books – and getting excited the moment someone is looking for just that – has its limits. But I actually kept it up for quite a long time. One of my favorite childhood memories ist that while walking in the woods with my father I was able to conjure up a little shovel from my backpack at just the right moment, when he sadly stood in front of a beech sapling he would have liked to plant in his little woodland. (Yes, I know that nowadays we definitely do not take saplings from the forest.)
Keeping information is a little easier. No matter what I was reading, I used to cut out everything and file it away. Today I’m always quick with my cell phone camera to photograph interesting paragraphs or book titles. My kids can tell you a thing or two about getting such important information from me. In fact, they don’t find this information half as important as I do … Maybe you know what I mean.
In the work preferences model “Team Management System” that I have enjoyed working with for a good 20 years,2 my role is that of a Reporter Advisor. In my teachings I like to talk about the piles of books on bedside tables, something that can be found in many people’s homes who work in this style. The piles of books that are now sitting next to me for the citations are a demonstration of that.
Unfortunately one characteristic of Reporter Advisors is that they never finish collecting knowledge. That’s why it took me a long time to decide to write a book without being able to include every bit of information I would like to. This book is my own personal collection of information and exercises. If you see that two topics seem alike it was designed this way to reinforce what you have learned or that you can choose the appropriate exercises.
I can honestly say that my regular exposure to these topics and the practice it provides me with have made me a happier and more balanced person.
Please decide for yourself how you want to work with this book. It covers the essence of what I have learned on the subject of feelings in my professional work since 1979 and what I have shared in my feelings letters from 2008 until now. So take your time. You may also be inspired to read some of the books I cited. In the footnotes you will find references to the authors I have found helpful. You will find the correct page numbers from the corresponding books in the footnotes. In the bibliography you can see which of these books are also available in English. I highly recommend all the books mentioned.
2 Team Management System to Margerison-McCannwww.team.energy/team-management-profil/
Let’s start with the story of how I became more involved with feelings and how I discovered the Gefühlsmonsters:
Even, or especially, as a mathematics teacher (during the years 1980–1994) I made an effort to create a pleasant climate in my classes. Special exercises helped to create a friendly learning atmosphere in which the students, as well as I as a person, found space.
One of my most moving lessons came from telling my class at the beginning of the lesson that I wasn’t feeling well because of an argument – and then bursting into tears in front of the class. Afterwards, we had a wonderful conversation about how difficult it often is to get along. Incredible, a conversation with the whole class (basic math class, 25 students between 17 and 22 years old) for 90 minutes! This was my first experience of how addressing feelings can develop into something very positive, touching – a genuine exchange.
Another time I heard from colleagues that one of my students had been beaten up and therefore missed a day. The next day I spoke to him about his black eye and to my surprise this student said after a while he felt that this kind of thing happened to him more often, that he always got into fights easily because he couldn’t control himself. It was obvious that he took responsibility for his actions without knowing what he could do differently. This conversation took place around 1982.
Subsequently, along with my students, I took part in assertiveness trainings. We learned from Jochen Dose, a police commissioner and anti-violence trainer, that it showed greater strength to control ones own behavior, and not to respond to a provocation, than to do what most did, namely to reply to an insult by entering into an exchange of words, ending in a fight (according to police research this is how it always starts).3
Later during my mediation training (1995) I learned that many conflicts arise because someone says or does something that they actually do not want to say or do. In one of my first mediation flyers I said: The fascinating thing about mediation for me is to experience how close our wonderful parts are next to the monster-like ones we show in the conflict. For my flyers4 my son gave me one of his monsters at my request, because I thought the difficult topic of conflict could do with a little humor. He had drawn the predecessors of our Gefühlsmonsters at a time when he was very interested in dinosaurs and enjoyed his various critters, which I then named monsters, referring to the monsters under the bed that all children probably experience at times. Later, when my son drew this monster with different feelings, I named it Gefühlsmonster (feeling monster).5 For me this matched the experiences from my work and the fact that this monster now showed different feelings. Only the patent attorney6, whom I later asked about the protection of our cards, made it clear to me that it was a brilliant name.
I had experienced often enough in myself and in my environment that we can show monster-like traits, and also how quickly these can change again into conciliatory, friendly ones when we feel heard and understood.
I have dealt with the topic of anger again and again in my mediation training sessions, conflict seminars, mediations, and team developments. Vera Birkenbihl gave me the image of the anger pot into which hormones drip until it overflows.7 In her lecture Be Angry More Effectively she says that we are born with a more or less strong disposition to get angry. You all know it, some of your friends may talk about how they’re quick to lose touch with others because they blow up so fast and then they’re sorry afterwards (those are the ones with the anger pot already almost full to begin with like my student, for example). Then there may be other friends who regret not having acted in a situation where they felt insulted. And of course there is the whole range of behaviors between these two extremes.
It was clear to me as a trainer that both groups need different learning processes. The beginning is the same for both: to become aware of what they feel as early as possible, before they act (or decide not to act). And then for the group of almost filledanger pots it is a matter of learning strategies that allow for conscious action, self-determined action, not externally determined action (exactly as the police trainer explained it). So acting instead of reacting. In the chain of principles (see page 18) for dealing with violence in public by Reinhard Kautz, the first thing is to perceive and take ones own feelings seriously. Many of us have forgotten this, often already in childhood through parents (who could not offer security in dealing with feelings, because of their own difficult experiences), in school, or later through misunderstood social conformity. It then requires a lot of support and practice to learn to perceive the signals of our own body again. I hope that you will find some ideas for this in this book.
To be aware of your body with its signals is just as important for the people with the barely filled anger pot. Here, after noticing the feelings, encouragement is needed to accept the feelings that arise and to feel free to do what feels right.
Chain of principles for social tensions, based on an idea by Reinhard Kautz and colleagues8
Training your awareness:
Being able to detect tiny signs of escalation.
Taking feelings seriously:
To detect your own and other's feelings early.
Taking action early:
This prevents further escalation and thus further complications. De-escalating by asking questions and addressing the needs of the other person.
Acting versus reacting:
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