‘Cheer up, things could be worse.’
‘Pull yourself together.’
‘Just snap out of it.’
‘Don’t be sad (angry/bored/jealous/sulky/moody.)’
How often did the grownups in your life say these, or something similar, when you were little?
Did you learn to deny your feelings?
Especially the bad and ugly ones.
And do you find yourself saying the same kinds of things to yourself now?
How’s that working for you? Chances are, not so well.
Because sometimes we need to feel. To be mindful of our feelings.
After all, we are human beings. Contrasting moods, experiences, and states are all part of the experience. Happiness and sadness. Excitement and boredom. Impatience and peace.
The problem can come when we get stuck in a ‘negative’ emotion.
Our mind takes over, feeding us stories and reasons and justifications to stay there, and we can find ourselves spiraling downwards…and unable to access more comforting feelings and higher energy states.
Bearing this in mind, and taking into account the saying ‘What you resist persists’, we’re going to take the emotion and sit with it…but with a time limit.
Be Mindful of Your Feelings in 5 Steps
Here’s what to do:
1. Set a timer or an alarm for about 10 minutes. Somewhere where you won’t be disturbed.
2. Now, observe your feelings – both physical and emotional. Don’t try to change them at all. Just notice.
These questions may help:
- Where do I feel this in my body? (In my stomach? In my throat? Neck? Heart? etc)
- What are the physical sensations that accompany this feeling? (Knot in my stomach, lump in my throat, tightness in my chest, weight on my shoulders etc)
- Is my breathing fast or slow?
- Is my heart rate fast or slow?
- How do I label this emotion?
- Who is involved in this emotion?
- On a scale of 0 to 10, where would I rate this emotion right now?
- Is this a familiar feeling?
- What do I feel like doing with this feeling? (Crying, screaming, hurting someone etc?)
Just stay here for the next few minutes.
3.Notice the thoughts that come into your head (‘This is stupid.’ ‘I’m so mad at so and so for…’ etc)
4. Observe, without trying to change anything, but let your feelings shift if they do so.
5. Then slowly open your eyes, give yourself a little shake, and acknowledge yourself for being a well-rounded human being.
try this tapping video (from my Quit a Bad Habit series) to release anxiety and choose relaxation.
Substitute any other feeling you would like to let go off.