We have been looking at the melting pot of emotional responses we can have when life gets challenging, and how we all have our unique way of dealing with things. If our emotions are running high, then sometimes our inner minds fear that this could be too much for us to deal with and can detach us from what is happening. We know that this happens in shock and PTSD situations and this detachment from our emotions and ourselves is something that has been studied extensively. But with this type of research, I think it is so hard to fully navigate the uniqueness of our emotional responses, and this can make understanding this difficult to analyse. If you have ever been skiing then this is something you might have experienced or heard about. I know as a skier this is something I always hated and luckily only had to experience a few times – it’s called a “whiteout”, where the snow is falling so much that you lose all concept of direction as the dense snow makes all the landscape indistinguishable. It’s a horrible feeling as you just don’t know what is in front of you or even which way is downhill or uphill and it can make you feel quite sick and very disorientated. I think at times when we are in an emotionally challenging situation our mind opts for a type of whiteout situation, in PTSD this is often at its maximum and I think we can then feel those disorientated and sick feelings but struggle to place this next to an emotional response or situation.
This is often what we need in times of trauma, but when dealing with things on a day-to-day basis with even part of this type of reaction, it can have quite a negative impact on how we respond to things. If our minds are moving into the whiteout zone then when we think about the situation at hand that is troubling us, we can feel less emotionally connected to the situation. You might be thinking this might not be a bad thing when things are hard to cope with and yes, you’re not wrong there, but it can have many downsides. If we are not fully emotionally connected due to our melting pot of emotions being in a whiteout, then how do we deal correctly with the situation if we are partly disconnected from ourselves? I believe that if we are in a part or full emotional whiteout then we are disconnected from ourselves, and just like a snow whiteout, we can then lose our baring and find it hard to navigate and move around.
If you think you whiteout in situations, then you might not respond appropriately at the moment, and it is only when the stress of the event resides that you then think “oh maybe that wasn’t the best way to have dealt with that situation”. Then maybe it is time to acknowledge that your melting pot of emotions is white and that you need to work harder to look at the emotions that your mind has been pushing away from you. If you have this knowledge then you can ask people around you to remind you of your whiteout emotional response or have a new protocol of how you deal with the emotive situation. This could be that you sit down and write down the situation and take the time to think about how this will make all the other people involved feel. Doing this simple exercise will help you bypass that automatic whiteout response and help you start to see where you are and give you a more grounded emotional response to what is challenging you.
There is often not a clear right or wrong answer to things, and emotions are very fluid and hard to hold in any solid form, a bit like water. It’s hard to just contain it unless you have a container, without that it’s just going to run everywhere. This for our minds and even ourselves can be scary and that is often where this whiteout way of dealing with things has been developed. Yes, it’s your inner habitual mind making this happen, but we don’t have to move blindly along with what our mind says, we have free will and choice to do what we feel is right. But making any changes will take effort as we are pushing against those learned and developed habits from our unconscious. It’s important moving forward that we don’t use this as an excuse not to change, but we put in place things around us that will help trigger us to remind us to reconnect and look at this from other people’s perspectives. Looking at the situation through other people’s eyes is a great way to help us reconnect to our feelings and help remove that whiteout from our inner mind and emotional responses.
If this is you, then I will imagine that this has been around for a long time and people around might find your ways of responding difficult to cope with and you might well be getting yourself in trouble with people for your lack of consideration? Or you might find you just withdraw completely or distance yourself from things until this emotional situation is receding, and again this might make the people closest to you feel unsupported in times of challenge. Neither of these ways will make your life happy and when you do reconnect to yourself then you won’t feel great about how you have dealt with things. Don’t let this happen, take control, reconnect, see things from other people’s perspective, set reminders etc. But also remember you are not on your own, get your family and friends to help you, they could just say when they see you backing away or detaching from an emotional situation, “whiteout”, and this could be enough to help you refocus back into the moment. Start this today and feel how great it can feel to stay more grounded and emotionally connected in your life. Sara x