In this interview, we talk to Dr Jane Foster, educator and creator of MYTERN – a program designed to help people change their language around emotion and regain control!
TERN = Take Emotional Responsibility Now.
As an educator, she was concerned about the false narratives that were, and still are, embedded in our culture, disrupting people’s lives and even ending them. She wanted to create a simple, every day language that could be used by everyone to build new positive narratives, eradicating stigma and judgement, enabling people to regain control of their mental and emotional state. A language that could replace blame, judgement and retaliation with empathy, compassion and responsibility. The culture of having to be happy and positive all the time is unrealistic and almost impossible to maintain – especially now.
In this interview, Dr Foster talks about
- her PhD project where she sent one text message per day to university students over a ten week period. She had astonishingly positive results in the test group, including increased psychological well-being, life satisfaction and purpose. They also had decreased psychological distress levels and there were several students who said that the program prevented them from committing suicide.
- how MYTERN can be used in schools, homes and occupational settings.
- how the program revolves around metaphors such as roads- you can be on a red (rough road) or a green (smooth road) in terms of your emotions. They are not necessarily “bad” and “good” roads- and we don’t want aim for always being on those smooth roads. The red roads can help us with our resilience, as we will always come up against challenges in life. The idea is to be in control – whether we are on the red or the smooth roads.
- how you can be out of control on red OR green roads. You can be on a green road and out of control – eg taking alcohol / drugs. You can also be in control on a red road – eg angry but responding in a calm way.
- how being out of control in MYTERN means that you are hurting yourself, hurting someone else or hurting something else.
- how the language can be simplified to – “are you on a red or green road? Are you in or out of control?”
- how the analogy of the steering wheel works – YOU are in control of the car (your emotions) and how you respond. Other people can not make you feel a certain way. “YOU made me feel this way” is giving the other person all the power. and making yourself a victim.
- MYTERN teaches you how to empty your glass – how little stresses build up over time and fill our glass. Minor stresses can help build health and resilience.
- how people of different ages can use the MYTERN model – from young children and adolescents to adults (even corporations)
- how sign language can be used to indicate when you’re feeling out of control (extending the fingers, flexing the thumb across the palm)
- the acronyms of PETs and TEPs.
- PETs are Personal Emotional Tools that help us regain control esp when we are on red roads. A PET could be going for a walk, taking some deep breaths, patting a pet, reading a book, cooking a nice meal, dancing etc. Adults will often choose alcohol, exercise or eating chocolate – which are fine in moderation, but in excess can become a TEP.
- TEPs are Triggers for Extra Precaution – ie the events/situations that cause someone to feel out of control. For example – parents are fighting, losing a computer game, bad drivers, feeling unwell or going to school/ work. Calling it a “TEP’ rather than a “trigger” means that there is no judgement. It’s a made up word so that there is no connotation associated with it. Understanding your own TEPs (and what PETs can help in that particular situation) gives you skills to help bring yourself back into control.
- how these tools can help lay down new neural pathways and some of the changes that Jane has seen over time within groups using the MYTERN model.
- the different packages available on the MYTERN website – eg therapist pack, teenager pack, family pack, adult pack. Each pack consists of short education videos and handouts (including maps and activities). The packs for individuals are only $AU19.99 and the therapist/family packs are $AU49.95. (Prices as of 21st July 2020). There are also a phone app (the emoji app) and the SMS messaging service.
You can find Dr Foster: