Emotional Intelligent…It does exist!

Understanding emotions may be similar to trying to find other life forms on Mars, but the reality is they exist! Before I dive into why emotional awareness is important, let me address what emotions are. This may seem like a simple phenomenon, but is it? Think about this for a moment; when a person asks you, “how are you doing today?” and your automatic response is fine, what does that mean? What is ‘fine’ in relation to how you are actually feeling. That answer comes automatically for various reasons, but it isn’t the truth. The Miriam-Webster dictionary defines emotion as “a conscious mental reaction (as anger or fear) subjectively experienced as strong feeling usually directed toward a specific object and typically accompanied by physiological and behavioral changes in the body” (An Encyclopædia Britannica Company). This definition is loaded with complex terms. If we break it down emotions are the reactions we have to a certain event. The movie “Inside Out” by Disney Pixar is a fairly accurate picture of emotions. The movie presents the concept of basic emotions which can be dated back to the first-century (Burton, 2016). Paul Ekman, Professor Emeritus in Psychology at UCSF and leader in psychology, identifies six-basic emotions; joy, sadness, fear, disgust, anger, and surprise. My graduate professor went as far as to eliminate surprise and disgust stating that those fell under fear and anger. These four or six emotions are the control center of our mental state and behaviors.

Now that we understand that there are four or six basic emotions, we can look at why it is importance to have emotional awareness. As a school counselor, I am teaching emotional understanding and awareness to my students. Emotional awareness is the first step in emotional regulation. A high school teenager has a lot of emotions they are dealing with due to their biology and psychology. Neuroscience studies show that the adolescent brain doesn’t look like that of an adult’s until early 20s. Teenagers are constantly reacting to their emotions instead of regulating them. There are many risk factors during this age, because they have not developed the ability to control impulses or plan ahead (National Institute of Mental Health, 2011). You add hormones to the mix and there’s bound to be a lot of emotions! I believe that our thinking (Rational) controls our emotions (Emotive) and our emotions control our (Behaviors). This is the reason I teach emotional awareness and regulation to my student. Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy is the theory that I use in educating students. Once a student can identify their emotion then they can identify the thought associated with that emotion. Then we can use a variety of techniques to help them regulate their emotions. Mindfulness is a great tool to use as well, because it forces the student to stop thinking about the future and focus on the moment. What does this look like in action? For example, when a student is worried about a test or assignment I have them go through the following steps:

Step 1. Identify the emotion

Emotion: worry = fear.

Step 2. Identify the thought that is causing that emotion. 

Thought: “I won’t do well, I’m going to fail, and if I fail I won’t graduate…” these thoughts continue to make the student feel worse and distract them from focusing on studying.

Step 3. Refocus, Mindfulness Technique

I have the student take a moment to refocus by breathing and “clear his head” by mentally wiping away his thoughts. That way we can start with new thoughts to negate the previous ones.

Step 4. Making Irrational Thoughts Rational, Role Play

During the last step, I would have the student write down thoughts that would make his irrational thought, “I’m going to fail”, rational. The student could come up with a variety up thoughts that would lessen his/her anxiety. They don’t have to be positive, but they have to be neutral. For example, “I have studied and prepared for this test. I’m going to do my best! Even if I do not get the grade I want, I will not be a failure”. This would be an example of making an irrational thought rational. This isn’t a Band-Aid technique or approach. It takes time to teach the student to do this on their own.

Our adolescents and pre-teens have a lot of anxiety in this high pressure filled society. They are expected to excel in every area of their life. As social beings, we naturally compare ourselves to one another and idolize people who have achieved greatness. The need to measure up, work harder, and be better puts a strain on our student’s mental health. They need to have the proper tools to be able to endure this mental stress. This article hasn’t taken into consideration student’s who have a mental illness. The mental health of our students is vital! That is why it’s importance to understand, have awareness, and advocate for Emotional Intelligence.

-Heather Couch, School Counselor at Covington Latin School

 

References

An Encyclopædia Britannica Company. (n.d.). Emotion. Retrieved October 11, 2016, from Marrian-Webster Dictionary: marriam-webster.com/dictionary/emotion

Burton, N. (2016, January 7). What are Basic Emotions? Retrieved October 11, 2016, from Psychology Today: psychologytoday.com

Ekman, P. (n.d.). About. Retrieved October 11, 2016, from Paul Ekman: paulekman.com

National Institute of Mental Health. (2011). The Teen Brain: Still Under Construction.Retrieved October 11, 2016, from National Institute of Mental Health: https://www.nimh.nih.gov

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…Blink Blink

Hello Cyber Family!

Someone please tell me how come I haven’t posted since December??? I honestly can’t believe it! Really my life has taken a few twists and turns since I’ve last posted and I should probably update my about page. I mean I’m still single, but I’ve graduated with my master’s and I’m a school counselor! I’m really excited to be working in a field I love. I’m going to a write a few blog posts about the life as a first year school counselor. I hope the lessons I’m learning will help those who are going to be school counselors and first years like myself. There is a lot I’m learning that I didn’t/couldn’t learn in a classroom.

Normally, I post a recipe or something that I’ve baked. My entry in December  was less than appetizing or successful! I have entered my family’s chili recipe along with my Cre’Lairs (a hybrid eclair/cream puff) into my school’s chili bake off fundraiser. I don’t know if my chili will win, but I have high hopes for my Cre’Lairs . They would be sure to have had Julia Child say “Bon Appétit “!

 I had a great helper! I love this little lady!

Aren’t they just beautiful ??

They are a definite crowd pleaser! 

Also, my second book will be coming out in February! check out my website to see the trailer and book cover!

Until tomorrow!

-H

Cooking Fails

Hey y’all!

As often as I cook/bake, I like to share my success stories but there are many times when I’m cooking/baking and something doesn’t turn out. Today I wanted to share with you a #epicfail! :p

First, I decided to make it in my ramekin bowls instead of the original dumpling style. I don’t think this is the cause of it being a disaster.

apple dumpling

It’s looks really good though, am I right or am I right??? 

So, I tried this new Copycat Recipe for Cracker Barrel’s Apple Dumplin and Pecan Streusel. I got the copycat recipe from Food.com, and I have copied the recipe below because maybe someone else can try it and be successful.

The recipe called for a puff pastry, I used Food.com’s recipe for that too, and it tasted just like yellow cake. I don’t know how, but it did.

Then I added the streusel and icing drizzle on top, that tasted amazing! The inside, however, was not what I was expecting. I was expecting to push my fork into gooey, warm apple filling that tasted better than honey. Nope, that wasn’t what it was at all! The inside was very dry and there wasn’t much flavor.  I couldn’t tell y0u what I did wrong, if anything! Not all copycat recipes are good and I will definitely be trying something else.

 

Happy cooking/baking!

-H

http://www.food.com/recipe/cracker-barrel-baked-apple-dumplin-271362

Do you have cooking/baking fails? I would love to hear your stories 🙂

Reciprocal…is now available!

Hey cyber world!

After the all of the hard work and sweat, my book is finally available to buy! I’m extremely proud of myself and all of the people that helped get me to this point! Thank you to all of my readers for your support on my blog, it means a lot to me! Publishing isn’t an easy process and I encourage those who are pursing it to be persistent!

I’m going to try to keep up on this blog, but I do majority of my blogging on my personal website. So, check it out at heathermcouch.com!

If you ever have any questions for me don’t hesitate to ask! 🙂

-H

Links to book:

ebook
http://www.amazon.com/Reciprocal-Infinity-Book…/…/B00Y42NBDI
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/reciprocal-heath…/1121718628
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/534099

Publishing Frustrations

Sigh, I probably won’t stop blogging on here anytime soon because I can vent without being judge too harshly! The great thing about blogging 😉 So, I received my books today from the publisher and they were not what I expected at all. They were too big for the actual size of the book. So, the book itself is only like an inch in diameter! Why they chose the size they did is beyond me. Then, the chapters are formatted weird and there are no page numbers. They could have looked at a softcover book and replicated some of the same basic concepts! I mean I think this partially my own fault, because I went with an unknown independent publisher. So, I am reaping the error of my ways. If anyone knows of a good publisher…I will gladly take names.

Sigh, oh the frustrations! It made me feel like a fake and a fraud today, because I’ve put so much time and energy into promoting the book and branding myself.  I know I’m being really hard on myself, but I just expected more and I was so excited. It’s hard to have a 10 expectation in a 5 world!

Thanks for listening/reading my complaints!

-H

Flash Fiction….A Killer Wedding

Hey Cyber World!

Well, I was going to completely stop blogging on here but I feel like my website blog hasn’t had enough exposure to do that yet. So, here is a flash fiction to wet your appetite! Check out my website and share 🙂 heathermcouch.com

A Killer Wedding

There’s a knock on the door. The rain patters against the window. A dog barks in the distance. The clouds are grey, and the fog is thick. It’s just another day in Clayphill, Virginia. After a long car drive, the mediocre motel is inviting. It’s middle class to say the least, but who can argue with 60 bucks a night? The wind whips against the screen to the window, and I look up briefly from the novel I have no desire to write. It’s just another day.

            Less than 24 hours ago, I sat in a packed church watching a friend get married. There was a silent acknowledgment from the friend that I had arrived to partake in the greatest day of his life. There was a slight smirk to acknowledge that I had been right on time—which meant I had to go through a side-door entrance in the front of the church and discreetly sit in the second row. I say discreetly, but there was absolutely nothing discreet about it. The ceremony went on without any more knowing looks from my friend, and he gave his full attention to the one that earned it – the bride. At that point, I zoned out until the jubilant Louisiana blues began to play, and the new Mr. and Mrs. almost ran out of the church. A sea of black lace dresses and grey vests followed the newlyweds out the door while the musicians continued their second strand processional music. No one noticed the mechanical, glassy-eyed pianist.

            I meandered from the front of church to the back and across a small walkway to the fellowship where the reception was to be held. There was something to be said for being a wallflower. One can observe unnoticed and take in all the happenings. How many people had come in the fellowship hall and walked back out? There were quite a few. Not knowing if they should take a seat or wait for the bridal party. It was quite entertaining from my vantage point. I had looked at the cake, the S’more bar, the baked potato bar, and the black/pink/diamond decorations. Then, I walked back out onto the wooden white porch and watched others with discretion but not moderation.

            “She’s dead!” My gaze fell upon a woman who was squawking like a crow. Her perfectly finished raven hair was disheveled. The dry-cleaned, firmly pressed dress was wrinkled. People hesitated, looking at her with curious stares as she stood in the middle of the paved walkway squawking. A younger woman (probably her daughter) stepped up to calm the woman and keep her from making a scene. I stood, watched, and waited.

            “Momma, what are you talking about?” The young raven-haired woman spoke in hushed tones to her mother. The older woman was clearly distressed over something. She grabbed hold of her daughter’s linen suit jacket lapels and looked at her with wild eyes.

            “She’s dead. They’re all dead,” the crow-like woman said, her voice audible but hard to ignore – the sound from squawking to a dry, hoarse screech.

***

            I walked across the walkway, through the double wooden doors, and stopped at the opening of the sanctuary. Two rows of light blue pews lined the right and left sides of the church. Three rows of chandeliers cast shadows along the walls that had narrow stained glass windows. The real beauty was the pulpit that had been simply decorated for the wedding. My feet were immobile as I looked on in horror and silence at the display before me. On the piano sat the glassy-eyed lady who hadn’t moved from her position. The saxophonist sat in the chair with his instrument still in poised ready to play at a moment’s notice. A young man with a five o’clock shadow sat at his drum set with his Vic Firth sticks in hand.  The real amazement was the bridal party that stood on both sides of the church with matching glassy-eyed looks that mirrored the musicians. I slowly walked down the aisle of the church that the bride had walked only minutes before. My eyes never left the scene that was in front of me. The bride and groom were the only couple missing from the freak show in front of me.

            “Exquisite, isn’t it?” The wind hit my back before the sound reached my ears. I turned on my heels and looked to the back of church. She wasn’t much taller than five foot with hair the color of fire. I knew who she was instantly.

            “How did you do it?” I asked simply. My throat was dry, and I could barely think.

            “Isn’t the question why did I do it?” she said with an evil laugh. The doors to the back of the door were shut, but there were two side entrances. One on the left, which was the one I had come in just in the nick of time, and one on the right. I eyed them, but didn’t move. There was something alluring about the puppet bridal party that was perfectly situated. They stood or hung there by fishing line that was barely visible to the naked eye. Their mouths were drawn into clownish smiles with smeared lipstick. Their eye shadow made up like a four year old that got into their mother’s vanity set. The whole thing looked like a freak show on steroids. I didn’t want to know why the psychotic mother of the groom had done it; that was easy enough to figure out. The how, was perplexing. How had she done this in a thirty-minute window?

            “Tick tock, running clock, more’s to come if you don’t stop. Tick tock, running clock, I’m gonna kill another sock,” I turned around to the mother swaying back forth with wide eyes singing nonsense.

            “Sock?” I asked with a raised eyebrow and pivoting on my heels. What the heck was this woman talking about? Sock? Sauk? Was she smart enough to know what a Sauk even was?

            “Tick tock, running clock, I will cure your writer’s block,” she kept singing with a childlike voice as she twirled a 9mm Smith and Weston pistol in her hand. What was she talking about? I was thoroughly confused and lost as she aimed the gun to my head.

            “Wait what are you doing?”  I asked but she had pulled the trigger. The shot rang through my ears and pain shot through my skull.

            “Tick tock, running clock, I just cured your writer’s block”.

***

            The rain pours down upon the grave, watering the seed that was just planted. Another life was gone. In the next passing days, people would mourn the loss but would soon move on with their lives as if nothing had ever happened. No one would remember the puppet wedding or the missing bride and groom in ten years from now. No one would remember the unknown author that only had one novel to her name. This would be the end of their stories. This would be the beginning of my new one.

The New and Improved….and newly published!

Hello cyber-world!

It’s almost a year, or maybe it’s been a year, since I last posted and a lot has happened! I recently became a published author. It takes a lot of perseverance and hard work, but I made it. Also, I now keep my blog on my personal website. I hope y’all check it out and stay for a glass of lemonade. It’s heathermcouch.com! Feel free to contact me and sign up for my newsletter and buy my book 🙂 of course!

This is my last post on here and it’s been a lot of fun!

Don’t be a stranger!

-Forever and Always,

HMC