Four Ways to Engage with the Change Triangle Tool for Emotional Health
Most people have never had any emotions education at all.
In 2022, this is an astounding fact. As a result of the lack of education in emotions and how to work with them in healthy ways, we resort to pushing them down which leads to symptoms, agitation, out-of-control behaviors, and a feeling of disconnection. Emotions are visceral communications designed by nature to help us survive and thrive. When it comes to emotions, a little education goes a long way.
By learning the language of the Change Triangle, we simply understand ourselves better. The Change Triangle encourages a connection between the mind and body because emotions are actually physical. Additionally, the Change Triangle is a powerful tool to prevent, ease, and heal anxiety and depression caused by past wounds and adversity. By distinguishing between core emotions, which we all have, inhibitory emotions, which block core emotions, and defenses where most of us live and which block both inhibitory and core emotions, we have an effective guide to help us feel better in the moment and throughout our lives. We get reacquainted with our emotions in safe, gentle, and knowledgeable ways.
The Change Triangle can be used in a number of ways and in a variety of settings. From providing a "left-brained" basic education on how emotions work in the mind and body for teens and adults; to using the Change Triangle in your self-help practice; and/or to using it as a guide for recovering from anxiety, depression, and trauma - there are many ways to engage with this life-changing tool on whatever level you are comfortable with and desire.
If you haven't seen it, here is a diagram of the Change Triangle:
Below I have outlined 4 different ways to engage with the Change Triangle:
Level 1: As a basic education in the mind
You are curious and desire an intellectual understanding of emotions, defenses, and the openhearted state of the authentic self. As they say, knowledge is power. And knowledge of emotions holds great power to help ourselves and others. Check out this video to teach you the basics of the Change Triangle.
Level 2: As a self-help tool
You wish to practice working with your emotions to get to a better place. You strive to work the Change Triangle in everyday life as a mindfulness practice for emotions. You work to identify your defenses, calm your anxiety, transform your shame and guilt, and experience core emotions in the here and now of daily life. You make use of tools and techniques to flow through core emotions instead of blocking them with defenses. This self-help video is an example of a Change Triangle self-help practice:
Level 3: Same as level 2, but additionally you strive to connect childhood experiences with current triggers to help transform them
You strive to identify, connect, and soothe younger parts of yourself that still suffer and lead to present-day triggers. You are motivated to change old patterns that no longer serve you. Click here for an example of a self-help practice where I worked with a trigger in real-time to change a long-standing pattern that no longer served me. Click here for an experiential exercise to try out yourself.
Level 4: The Change Triangle as a tool to turbocharge psychotherapy
You desire to use the Change Triangle as a guide to process traumas and symptoms with a psychotherapist or counselor. You might bring the Change Triangle book, It's Not Always Depression, to your therapist, or find an AEDP or other kind of experiential therapist familiar with the Change Triangle to accompany you on your journey. You may feel stuck in some areas, or you may have emotions too scary to process alone, or you may have persistent symptoms that require therapy to overcome. The stories in the book show how people work the Change Triangle in the context of AEDP therapy to heal and recover.
Just seeing the Change Triangle and understanding the basics of core emotions, inhibitory emotions, defenses, and the openhearted state of the authentic self can be a huge help in self-understanding and self-awareness. When I first saw the Change Triangle, I immediately felt better about myself and my emotions. The Change Triangle starts the beginning of a lifelong journey towards emotional health. That is the purpose of the book and the EE 101 classes - to give you a tool that can transform your emotional health for the better on many levels. Ultimately, we all hope to make constructive - not destructive - use of our emotions. At the very least, seeing the Change Triangle will assure you that your feelings are natural.
I hope you choose to learn more. Along with the selected links above, here are more resources I created to help:
It's Not Always Depression self-help book on the Change Triangle
Emotions Education 101 practice class