Knowing your Emotional Zones! THE THREE Rs


People often ask about navigating emotionally from one Zone to the other and how to spend more and more time in their Green Zone. One of the ideas we use is a Green Zone concept we call “the 3Rs“. Let me explain it.

The first R is Recognizing, that is learning to be aware of our Emotional Zones and social triggers. We first need to recognize the changes in our Emotional Zones, that is, noticing that we have moved from our Green Zone  into the Yellow or Red Zone. Then we need to recognize the person or situation that pushed us out of our Green Zone .

The second R is Recovering. When we are pushed to our Yellow or Red Zone, we need to find ways to recover or come back to our peaceful Green Zone.

The third R is Restraining. After we become aware of our triggers (people or situations) we need to find ways to deal with our triggers in a healthy way so that we can prevent ourselves from falling back to our Yellow or Red Zone.

After using the Green Zone Philosophy for a while people become aware that Green Zone People ACT while Red Zone People REACT. Even when circumstances cannot change, people’s attitude can change. We have found that Green Zone Philosophy inspires people to change their attitude step by step.

When I was developing the concept of the 3Rs, two things inspired me. The first was the concept of bio-feedback. Health practitioners often use biofeedback techniques to help their patients reduce chronic pain, migraines and hypertension, among others things. As people become aware of their physical reactions, they develop more control. I thought if that technique could be used for physical pain, why can it not be used for emotional pain?

The second source of inspiration was my Dad, Basit’s wisdom. He used to say that life is like an ocean and the human heart is like a boat. As far as tons of water stay outside, the boat remains safe. But when there is a hole in the boat and two gallons come in, the boat starts to sink. Similarly, if the human heart does not let all the problems of life come inside the heart, it remains peaceful.

As we worked with people in our clinic, we realized that a diary would be an effective way to record and be aware of what Emotional Zone we are in and what or who triggered us.  So I created the idea of a Green Zone Diary and asked people to make an entry in the diary at the end of each day. We recommend that they first review their last 24 hours and write down how many hours they spent in their Green, Yellow and Red Zones,  and  then also reflect on what was happening at that time. Connecting their daily events with their Emotional Zones helps develop awareness of their emotional triggers. Green Zone Philosophy assists in becoming more aware of our emotional reactions and the more we become aware of our emotional reactions, the more awareness we develop  of Red, Yellow and Green Zone choices. Gradually, as we develop that awareness,  we begin making wiser Green Zone choices.

It is amazing to see people who have been emotionally suffering for years, begin spending more and more hours in their peaceful Green Zone, within a short time. As well, by keeping a Green Zone Diary they also become aware of all those people and activities that bring them to their Green Zone.


Dr. Sohail

13 thoughts to “Knowing your Emotional Zones! THE THREE Rs”

  1. Although the 3R’s is a simplistic concept the implementation can be a challenge, with the increased understanding of the ability to create your destiny by setting your sails towards Recognizing, Recovering and Restraining yourself from the strength of Emotional Zones (Wind) that could sink your boat is the life boat needed to manage turbulent times. This concept has had a profound impact on my life and how I respond to the stressors of life while preserving myself and the valued relationships in my life, it is the life preserver that keeps me afloat during turbulent times. This mantra helps me with the 3R’s “You cannot adjust the wind buy you can adjust your sails”.

    1. Dear WC, Thank you for your insightful comments. Your comment, ‘ You cannot adjust the wind but you can adjust your sails.’ is profound wisdom. Green Zone Philosophy has the flexibility that people can adjust it to their own life challenges. I hope you share your comments in our future Blogs. Peacefully, Dr Sohail

    2. I love your 3r’s on living in the Green Zone. I’ve applied these concepts directly in my life and they’ve helped me with a critical decision in my career. Having an employer/friend who became challenged by my success in my career often resulted in us clashing heads, becoming confrontational and both suffering with no results as, deep down inside, there was repressed love and respect for each other.

      After 7-years in probally the best job I ever had doing the work I loved with members who I adored, I believed the only option for resolving this conflict was to leave.

      I was privileged in being approached by the competition and offered another job. It was at this point that I applied the above 3 r’s to make quite a contradictory decision – to stay where I was.

      In applying the recognition and recovering phases, I confronted her and told her exactly what I felt and what triggers caused both of us to collide and hurt. We reconciled and I’m now aware of the triggers that cause me to get in my Red Zone with anger and hatred. Whereas it’s never perfect, these steps and my awareness and restraining from the triggers that cause us to collide should enable me to stay in the job I love in a far more harmonious way.

      1. Dear Linda, Thank your for sharing your struggles and successes. They will inspire others to use Green Zone concepts to create a healthy, happy and peaceful Green Zone Lifestyle. Peacefully, Dr Sohail

    3. Thank you Dr. Sohail. It is so helpful day by day to be able to recognize the triggers that send me into the red or yellow zones and now I am learning how to recover.
      Retraining takes time but is so worth the effort and practice
      Friend of Bill W

      1. Dear Darlene, The more we recognize the triggers and the more we practice to recover,

        the more it becomes easier with time. You are on the right track. Keep it up.


        Dr Sohail

  2. I agree with the Three R’s. I have applied them in my personal life as well as sharing this philosophy with my High School students before I retired in 2011. I still remember one student who had lived a tough life and never been aware of his feelings or how to deal with them. On the first day that I taught him about the Green Zones and how to recover he said amazingly”You mean I don’t have to stay mad all day?”.
    In my own life, monitoring how I feel and when has been an immense help in connecting the dots between what happened in my day, how I feel, and more importantly giving me clues as to how I can recover. Not being trapped by my feelings is a wonderful freedom that allows me to use more of my potential as a human being. Knowing the triggers and avoiding them allows me to go to a “deeper, peaceful, green.” Thank you Dr. Sohail for sharing this Green Zone philosophy with the world, and showing us a better way to live our lives.

    1. Dear John, I am so glad that your students learnt from your Green Zone wisdom. Keep up the good work. When we are at peace with ourselves we can help others to be peaceful. Peacefully, Dr Sohail

    2. Hi John

      I really appreciate your description – Deeper, peaceful, Green. I never thought about depth of zones. It really isn’t just Green, Yellow or Red, but the depth to which we go as well. Bravo! I love that you shared the Green Zone concept with that angry student. What relief he must have felt when he realized that he had options with and about his anger. I do believe that anger is the flip side of sadness. Its our defence mechanism to protect ourselves against would be aggressors – predators. The message being Don’t mess with me or else – truth being or else you will cause me more harm, grief and sadness. But the brave front conveys instead – I will mess you up. To face the world in a Red raincoat must be exhausting and a cold place to live. For you to have saved that young man from his own self-destructive behaviour and demeanor is monumental. You are living your own legacy John.

  3. It is so amazing how simple things have deep impacts in our life. Knowing my trigers was a big achievement for me and now helping me to stay in Green or at least in yelow. Not in Red yet in 2016. Dr. Sohail! You are a champion of creating peace in so many lives. Thank you

    1. Dear Sultan Zafar, Every person who learns Green Zone ideas becomes a teacher to share them with their family and friends. Thanks for spreading the message of peaceful Green Zone Living. Peacefully, Dr Sohail

  4. Thanks for writing and helping many people to help themselves by applying simple techniques. We do not need money or expensive stuff to buy our motivational soothing. I am using your concept with my clients while I teach them groups. They find it great. Thanks.

    1. Dear Gohar, I am so glad that you can use Green Zone concepts with your clients. You are a wonderful teacher. Your clients are lucky to have you as their therapist. Peacefully, Dr. Sohail

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