Louisa May Alcott

My Significant Emotional Event

I recently experienced a Significant Emotional Event, and it’s shaken me to the core. It’s disrupted my emotional, mental and physical wellbeing; making me think and behave differently.

I know this is a normal response to a Significant Emotional Event.

I’ve researched values development and Significant Emotional Events extensively, to share it with my clients in coaching and workshops on self-development and self-leadership. The vast majority of my research focused on the work of Dr. Morris Massey.

Dr. Massey defines a Significant Emotional Event as: “an experience that is so mentally arresting that it becomes a catalyst for you to consider, examine, and possibly change your initial values or value system.”

I can say, without a doubt, that’s what I’ve recently experienced.

Why values are so important to us

Our values guide our approach to life and relationships. They inform our way forward through the many choices we are offered every day. You could say they make up a large part of who we are, and how others view us.

Massey believes our values are developed during three major periods:

  1. The Imprint Period – 0-7 year old. Where we’re like sponges, absorbing everything around us and accepting much of it as true, especially when it comes from our parents.
  2.  The Modelling Period – 8-12 years old. Where we copy people, often our parents, but also other people, e.g. teachers.
  3. The Socialisation Period – 13-21 years old. Where we are very largely influenced by our friends, media, technology, music etc, and naturally turn to people who seem more like us.

Unless a Significant Emotional Event occurs or we make a conscious effort to adjust our values, Massey believes we live our life modelling the behaviours formed from our values, and they are reflected in our perspectives, work ethic, and communication style.

The theories vs. the reality

When I researched this, it all fell into place. I understood how values are formed, and how they can be changed, and the impact a Significant Emotional Event can have. It made sense.

But this is my Significant Emotional Event, and right now, it doesn’t make sense.

It feels like someone has thrown my deck of values cards up in the air, and I’m still waiting for them to fall down.

Of course, all of this is in line with what I know – and what I teach to others. My experience isn’t out of the ordinary. Despite knowing the work of Massey, I hadn’t realised how much a Significant Emotional Event could cause me to re-evaluate my values and my behaviours.

It feels like my values may change, as well as the priority I place on my values.

What has also struck me, is that even though my own Significant Emotional Event is very personal for me, I can see more clearly now how Significant Emotional Events can affect others.

A birth, death, marriage, divorce, illness, a child leaving home, these are all things that can shake somebody’s world and make them think, behave and feel differently. Everything changes for that person, but the rest of the world continues, oblivious to the internal turmoil they might be experiencing.

Two months ago, I was so focused on my work, and getting ready to celebrate Ad Florem’s 3rd birthday. I wouldn’t have even considered stepping back: not logging on my computer, not following up on emails, not posting on social media, and clearing my diary of client appointments for a month. That wouldn’t have felt right.

But for the last month, that’s exactly what I’ve done, and I know for sure, it felt right.

I couldn’t relate to my work. I’d walk into my office, and the energy I usually feel was missing. If I don’t feel energised by it, I’m not going to believe in it and I won’t perform at my best. Staying true to myself, I chose not to work.

I’m now starting to find value in my work again, and my energy is building back up. Please bear with me as I reflect, refocus, adjust and accept. I know this re-evaluation process will be positive.

When it’s done, I will be a stronger person and an even better coach.

My mum’s last words to me were “go and enjoy yourself, and keep improving yourself” and that’s exactly what I am going to do.

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