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Calming the Chaos

Calming the Chaos is a podcast by Licensed Mental Health Counselor Tracy Kenela. She uses profound and often humorous stories from her own life to illustrate how chaos can show up, and how emotional it can be! Anxiety, depression, fear, worry, shame and overwhelm can be managed using a variety of simple tools, skills and techniques. Tracy uses her experience as a counselor and her own personal work to provide you with hope…as well as some simple coping techniques, support and encouragement... that will help you move toward a more peaceful and enjoyable life.

Jan 19, 2020

Podcast Episode: Oceans of Emotions

This episode of “Calming The Chaos” we discuss the emotional chaos that can happen when stressful or chaotic situations occur in your life.

You’ll learn about the five main “Families” of emotions, and the purposes these emotions can serve in times of chaos.

Through stories and situations, you will learn some tips and tools and techniques that can help you though times of emotional chaos.

What are emotions?

The Big 5 “Family” of emotions

Fear (and its relatives include worry, anxiety, stress, panic, terror) – “The Grand-Daddy” of all emotions shows up when you think you are in danger. As is true with chaos, fear can be

• Real fear (like an emergency situation where your physical body or emotional self is in danger of being hurt)

• Perceived fear (when your mind thinks it is in physical or emotional danger).

Purpose of Fear: to warn you of impending danger. Fear helps you “To survive and remain alive”

Fears can range from being chased or pursued by someone intending to harm you or a loved one, or specific fears of harm to family, health, home, emotional fears (including hurt or rejection).

Anger (and its relatives include irritation, annoyance, frustration)

Shows up when you think something is in the way of an important goal, or when someone or something is harming, humiliating or shaming you or someone you care about. Anger can also show when:
• You think you are getting something you DON’T want
• You think you AREN’T getting something you do want.

Purpose of Anger: To get things done, whether through attack or defense. It can show you that action needs to be taken. Some choose violent ways to “get things done,” while others get more creative.
Anger is the fuel for you to take action to get things done
Sadness (and its relatives include depression, disappointment, defeat)

Shows up when you have loss, or think you have loss. It also shows up when things in your life aren’t what you want or expect them to be.

Purpose of Sadness: to get your priorities aligned, and so that changes can be made in your life so that you have more of what you want your life to be, and less of what you don’t want it to be. It can be useful for new beginnings, setting new priorities, making changes.

Guilt (and its relative includes regret)
Shows up when you think you are doing something “wrong,” like hurting people or damaging property or breaking the law.

Purpose of guilt is so that you can recognize wrong behavior….behavior that hurts and abuses others or things. and, so that you can make repairs to the people or things that have been damaged.

Shame (and its relatives include embarrassment, humiliation).
Shows up when you think you ARE something wrong. Shame is often mis-perceived. Like the perception that most people have clean homes, and I don’t. It shows up as shame, as who I am something wrong. When in reality, that’s just not true. I can be a good person…and…have a messy home!
All of these emotions can happen in times of chaos, and can show up because of your perceptions about you and your world.

I. A story from my life: When I had “Oceans of emotions” Flying over the ocean.

a. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy on myself: Situation, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors

i. Situation: Flight home delayed. Aching back, Customs took forever. Need to catch a connecting flight. Running through LAX to catch the flight. Noisy. Missed the flight. Need to spend the night in LA. Hungry, tired, back hurt. Anger. Hurt. Fear. They said they would make it right, but they didn’t give us a meal voucher!

ii. Plan: We would do whatever we could to get home. Get sleep. Go to the airport. Not a lot of sleep, so I had coffee, even though I knew I had a bad relationship with coffee being an aid to anxiety.

iii. Situation: On the plane back to Seattle. I was okay for a while, but when turbulence hit…..I FREAKED OUT!

iv. Thoughts: “We’re going to crash. I’ll never make it home, never see my cats again.” “I will never be able to do the things I want to do.” “My clients will be without a counselor.” “I will be doomed.”

v. Feelings: Fear. Panic. Sadness. Despair. Embarrassment.

vi. Behaviors: Crying uncontrollably on the plane. But I held my head up.

II. Here’s what I could have done better

a. Aware – Mindfulness. Also being aware of the facts. Or, view it from a different perspective…maybe as a bad comedy.

b. Awake - Use skills to calm down the body. I could have used more breathing and self-soothe the 5 senses to help calm me. Describing my environment. The visual pictures that were awake in my mind were all of destruction. So I could have changed my mindset, and visualized success and not failure.

c. Alive – Take action. In my mind, think more optimistically, and tell myself another story. I say to my clients, “Talk to yourself like you would your best friend. Validate emotions.

d. Alight – Even if you don’t feel this way. What TRULY matters anyway? Nobody has died yet. It’s not over till it’s over. The practice of mindfulness could have helped here, visualizing each second as it passes as one where I am still alive.

III. Skill of the day

Validate Your Emotions: This is when you tell yourself “It makes sense that I feel this way,” and list the reasons why it makes sense that you are having an emotion.

i. Fear: “Of course I feel afraid, because I can actually die in a plane crash.”

ii. Anger: “Of course I feel angry, because If it hadn’t been for those idiots at customs, I would have been home already, and not on this turbulent flight.”

iii. Sadness “Of course I feel sad, because I’m thinking of future loss.”

iv. Guilt: “Of course I feel guilty, because if I hadn’t gone on this trip in the first place, none of this would be happening.”

v. Shame: “Of course I feel shame, because the decisions I’ve made led me here.”

IV. Skills I used on the plane: Breathing slowly, self=-soothe using touch and smell of my husband, and positive thinking: “We will be okay.”

V. Conclusion: It is important to recognize when chaos happens, step back, use skills.

a. Aware, Awake, Alive, Alight.
b. This may not give you a perfect life, but it sure can improve the quality of the life you are living, in the moments you are experiencing either real or perceived chaos. If you want a peaceful life

VI. Further Resources:

1. Access Tracy’s website for resources and links to help you calm the chaos:

2. Access my podcast through the following means
• Through iTunes / Apple Music at

b. Through a direct feed, by clicking the link

• Tracy’s CD on calming the mind. It’s called “On This Day.” This CD is available on CD and Digital format through Amazon, Spotify and Apple music at the following links

a. Amazon:

b. Spotify:

c. Apple Music: