Kick Your Negativity to the Curb!
There are so many moments in life that are difficult, painful, scary and hard to endure. There are times when we feel anger, anxiety, grief, embarrassment, stress, remorse or other negative emotions.
In these trying times we often want to escape the pain, drown it out or push it away somehow. We may begin a mental struggle with the pain trying to mentally talk our way out of it, or we distract ourselves with activities or drown it out with food or drink or something stronger. The only problem is that these techniques only disguise the pain. It's still living in your heart.
All these ways of avoiding pain only perpetuate it in the long run. Avoidance creates suffering and keeps us from living this miraculous and precious life that we have.
Through mindfulness you can learn to turn your negative emotions into your greatest teachers and sources of strength.
Instead of ‘turning away’ from pain we can learn to gently ‘turn towards’ what we’re experiencing. We can bring attention to the wounded parts of ourselves and make wise choices about how to respond to ourselves and to life. Burying sadness and pain does not serve us well.
It is by turning towards negative emotions that we find relief from them – not by turning away.
One of my favorite quotes: Whatever You Fight, You Strengthen, and What You Resist, Persists – Eckhart Tolle
Here is a six step process for mindfully dealing with difficult emotions…
1. Stop, Turn Towards not Away
Once you have become aware of the feeling, stop for a moment. Take a deep breath and then ‘sit with’ the anger, shame, guilt, anxiety, frustration or fear. Don’t inhibit it, suppress it, ignore it or try to conquer it. Just be with it with an attitude of open curiosity and acceptance. No judging here!
2. Identify The Emotion
Acknowledge that the emotion is there. If you are embarrassed, you can specifically recognize that feeling. Often anger tries to cover all other emotions so really dig deep here. You can mentally say to yourself, for example, “I know there is embarrassment in me.”
3. Acceptance Of What Is
When you are embarrassed, or feeling another negative emotion, you don’t need to deny it. You can accept what is present. In his book ‘Peace is Every Step’, Thich Nhat Hahn suggests we can actually mentally acknowledge to ourselves… “I can accept that I am experiencing intense embarrassment right now.”
Through your mindful acceptance, you can embrace or hold the feeling in your awareness– this alone can calm and soothe you.This is so empowering! This is an act of self-compassion and responsiveness to your own distress, and it is so much more effective than punishing yourself for having this feeling. No guilt!
By opening and embracing the emotion, you create a mental space around it and witness it instead of being enmeshed in it. By creating this space you’ll discover that you are not your anger, your fear or your pain. You are much larger than that.
Think of embracing your difficult emotion in your arms just like a mother holding her upset child.
4. Realize The Impermanence Of All Emotions
Acknowledge that all emotions are not permanent. They arise, stay for a while and then disappear. They come and go in you, like waves in the sea, cresting and receding. Just remember that this too shall pass.
Your task is simply to allow this current wave to be and to witness, with patience, as it continuously changes form and eventually disappears.
We often take emotions (especially negative ones) very personally. But mindfulness invites us to view them as simply mental events passing through- temporary waves in our ocean of awareness.
5. Investigation & Response
When you are calm enough, you can look deeply into your emotion to understand what has brought it about and what is causing your discomfort.
It may be that particular kinds of thoughts were the cause. You may have been worrying unnecessarily about something or someone and that generated feelings of anxiety. Perhaps you were ruminating on a random comment a colleague said last week and it created anger or embarrassment.
You may also find that you have particular values, beliefs, expectations and judgments about how you should behave or be seen by others that contributed to the emotion. Always be true to yourself.
You may then reflect on how you want to respond to what is happening. This may take the form of simply realizing that your thoughts are not reality and therefore not taking them seriously.
It could be that the simple embracing of the emotion is all you need to do for now, or it could be that a response is needed to a situation that has arisen in your daily life.
6. Trust Yourself To Choose The Appropriate Response
Only you know what that is for you.
Source Melli O'Brien
Stay Well My Friends,