As a student of psychotherapy and a practicing therapist, I realized that most books on mental health were written for health professionals. However, I wanted to write books for the average person who suffers from anxiety and depression, and marital and family problems. I was interested in creating a self-help program to focus on emotional and relationship issues. The Green Zone Philosophy and Green Zone Books are the result of that wish and our gift to our patients and their families.
Green Zone Philosophy inspires people to create a happy, healthy and peaceful lifestyle for themselves and for their dear ones, that we call Green Zone Living. In one sentence, Green Zone Living is peaceful living. The Green Zone Philosophy has already helped so many people through our clinic. In our community there are many doctors and nurses, psychiatrists and social workers, who refer their patients to our Green Zone Clinic. No wonder we have nearly a one year waiting list.
One benefit of the Green Zone Book Series is that people who are on our waiting list or who visit our website, www.greenzoneliving.ca can start reading our books even before they see us in therapy, so that when they see us, they are more equipped to do their work and engage in Green Zone Therapy.
How it all started
Wise people say that when the student is ready, the teacher appears. So a couple appeared in our clinical practice that became my teachers. As a creative writer, I am used to eureka experiences, some minor, some major. Such experiences are magical as they bring us profound insights about life.
So let me share the story of a couple that became a major eureka and offered me some profound insights into life, human suffering and healing.
This couple was married for ten years and had a five year old son. They struggled with domestic violence. The husband would get angry and become abusive. He shouted insults and belittled his wife. Finally, she had enough and gave him an ultimatum, to get professional help or she would leave. So they went to see their family doctor who referred them to our clinic, the way he had referred other couples.
During my assessment the husband told me that he loved his wife and wanted to change but he did not know how. He shared that he had a poor role model as a child as he saw his father being abusive to his mother. He wanted to break that cycle of violence but he needed some professional help.
During the second interview when he was talking very affectionately about his son, I asked him,
“What do you want to see for your son?”
He said, “I want to see him grow up as a prince.”
I responded, “If you want your son to become a prince, you have to treat his mother like a queen. If you treat her like a slave, your son will never become a prince.”
Hearing my comments, he smiled and I felt a special connection with him. I knew I could help him.
In the next session when he was telling me how he got angry and lost control, I looked right in his eyes and asked,
“When you are driving and you see a yellow light, what do you do?”
“I put my foot on the accelerator.” He honestly replied.
“Why is that?” I was curious.
“Because I am always in a hurry. In a hurry to go to work. In a hurry to pick up my son from the babysitter. In a hurry to get home.”
I said, “A wise man puts his foot on the brake, not on the accelerator.”
Hearing this, his pupils dilated and I could see my words touched him deeply. Building on the driving analogy, I continued, “When you start to get angry, you are in your Yellow Zone. You need to leave the room and wait until you are back in your Green Zone.”
After two weeks when his wife came for her session, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that there had been a significant improvement in his behaviour. In the next few months, he worked hard to control his temper and became more affectionate and loving with his wife. Finally he was able to save his marriage and transform his breakdown into a breakthrough. I was quite impressed by his progress.
That experience made me wonder about the effectiveness of using the traffic lights to symbolize the emotional states. It is visual. It is immediate. It connects a well know symbol, such as the traffic lights with our Emotional Zones.
So I tried that concept with a second couple, a third couple, a fourth couple and I was so happy to see it work, even with couples who had serious emotional problems. Over the years it developed into the Green Zone Book Series, a series of 6 books focusing on different expects of emotional and relationship health.
So, what is the Green Zone?
According to the Green Zone Philosophy, we all live in three Emotional Zones – Green, Yellow and Red – just like the traffic lights.
In our Green Zone, we are relaxed, happy and enjoying life. When we are somewhat upset, sad or frustrated, we are in our Yellow Zone. And when we become very depressed, angry or lose control, we are in our Red Zone. The more we are able to become aware of our Emotional Zones, the more we are able to spend time in a peaceful Green Zone.
If you wish to read more about the Green Zone, you can find our books on Amazon Kindle.
Dr. K. Sohail
MBBS FRCP (Canada)