This week, I’ve been working on a piece of self-paced e-learning for parents of children with special needs with my good friend Aimee Mann of Aimee Mann Mentoring. The e-course is called Getting Your Voice Heard. It’s a workshop she runs in physical space and is now converting it into an online format in order to reach more carers out there who can’t always make it to the live workshops.
Often parents of children with special needs find themselves in conversations with specialists, teachers and other school officials about their child.
As you might imagine, these situations can be very emotionally charged. Especially when the parent doesn’t know what’s going on with their child and the people who are supposed to know, don’t know either.
But decisions need to be made.
And sometimes the parents let their emotions get the better of them. They leave the meetings frustrated, confused and disappointed that they were not able to advocate for their child effectively.
So one of the modules on this e-course is about how our emotions affect our decision-making and what can be done to make sure emotions are used to their full effect.
Here’s a little snippet:
Your emotions influence the decisions you make every day. The question is, and your success depends on the answer to this question, do you have the ability to understand and interpret the emotions at play in your life at any given moment?
You see, when an emotion is triggered in your brain, it sends a signal to your nervous system and your nervous system responds by creating a feeling in your body, triggering certain thoughts in your mind. The combination of these feelings and thoughts affect your behaviour, in other words, they determine how you act in response to any given situation.
How much should you pay attention to these responses and the thoughts they create?
Well as it turns out, lots, especially when you’re advocating for your child in potentially very emotionally charged situations.
Our emotions aren’t particularly sophisticated and they’re definitely not precise. But they weren’t designed for sophistication and precision. Their function is to help you take in a lot of information about your situation quickly and without a lot of thinking. We get a gut feeling and we act. And in most cases, not very rationally.
Think of your emotions as an alert system. It’s your body’s way of preparing you for action. What you have to learn to do is read the signals and make conscious choices about how you can most effectively use this heightened state of alertness.
This isn’t to suggest that you need to hide or suppress your emotions. Why would you want to deny yourself access to a primal force that has evolved over thousands of years and is designed to help you do what you need to do?
Your emotional system can you give you a tremendous advantage in your decision making if you learn to use it properly.
In your decision-making, today, ask yourself what emotion, in you, is at play? What signal is that emotion trying to send you? How can you use that information to best influence the situation you’re in?
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