Alright, folks. So the next skill that we're going to talk about today is mindfulness to emotions. And yes, we will be practicing this in upcoming sessions as well.
This is important for a variety of reasons. But what I'm going to highlight here is that suppression of emotions, so refusal to feel emotions, leads to increase suffering. Whereas being able to observe and sit with emotions tend to lead to freedom.
I'm going to talk about a little bit about why that is.
Oftentimes, some of the women that I work with are struggling with one of two problems, either they feel the need to be in control of their emotions. 100% of the time, heaven forbid that they're a little irritable or snappy with their partner or their child, they judge themselves super harshly.
And think that even slight variations in their day to day emotions, and especially behavioral ways that they might behave in response to those emotions are signs of weakness, or that they're a terrible person or a terrible mom. Now, the other side of that coin, for those of you for whom that didn't resonate with, is that other folks will spend boatloads of time trying to avoid negative emotions, they think that they can't cope with them. They think that they will lose control go crazy freak out on someone if they experience emotions, and so they have to avoid them at all costs.
The problem is, is that the more that you try and inhibit or block or distract from emotions, the more that those emotions tend to build under the surface, because if we go back to some of the fundamentals of emotion regulation, all emotions serve a purpose. They are there to communicate something to you or to other people, something that's important. Now, whether or not those emotions always fit the facts is a different questions, but all emotions serve a purpose.
So if we can break free of these habits, or attempts to try and over control emotions, or to avoid emotions, we can often find freedom and gain back a lot more time and energy to put towards the things that matter most to us. So how do you do this with day to day emotions, I will preface this by saying sometimes, when emotions feel so intense, that you feel like you are going to do something that is going to make the situation worse, you may 1, use some of your distress tolerance skills to bring down your physiology into a level where you can be more present and mindful of emotions.
In general, what we're talking about here are emotions, which are could be pleasant, or really uncomfortable, but that you aren't going, you aren't feeling strong urges to again, do something to make the situation worse. So we need to do this, so that we can learn a couple of things. First of all, that feeling emotions does not result in catastrophes.
Second of all, that you don't have to be controlled by your emotions. And third of all, again, to highlight that point that I just said that there are valid reasons that we feel emotions, and that the path through them is via acceptance. So how do we do this? First of all, by observing emotions, you might, if you're more of a visual person, try and imagine that your emotion is a wave, and that you are going to sort of ride it almost like you're on a surfboard literally sitting and just noticing what that emotion feels like. In order to do this, you have to be willing to have an emotion to allow it to be present. You might notice for many of them, that you have gotten so into the habit of avoiding emotions, that you start to shut down feelings without even being aware of it, that's normal.
And you can notice that pattern and try and sit with an emotion when it shows up.
Alternatively, observing emotions doesn't mean clinging to them, okay? So we don't want to suppress
We don't want to cling, we don't want to try and amplify it and and build it up. We know, emotions love each other, right? And so chances are if you're feeling a boatload of shame, for example, you will then start to feel. And remember more and more times when you have acted in a way that is consistent with shame. And slowly but surely, your emotion is building and building and building, because you're not being mindful to just the situation that you're in.
And just the emotion that you're feeling, trying to stay focused and in the present, okay. One way that we can do this is also through observation of bodily senses, sensations that are occurring, it's really difficult for us to differentiate between physically what's happening for us and feeling an emotion.
And so if you feel yourself pulling away, or just starting to suppress, trying to just bring your attention to different sensations that they that are happening in your body, and having a curious approach to that, right, like, what does this feel like?
How does it compare to other times when I felt this way? How is that changed from five minutes ago, and noticing sort of intensification and de intensification, riding that wave and how that changes over a period of a few minutes.
Remember, the quickest way out of an emotion is through it.
So, if you sit with an emotion, chances are it will follow the normal emotion curve where it picks up peaks and then naturally comes down.
We often get stuck because people will an emotion will start to pick up and a person will think oh no, oh, no, can't feel this way. And so they'll try and shut it down.
And then the emotional brought up again. And they get caught in this constant cycle of emotion increase, shut it down. So that emotion never has a chance to resolve on its own.
Alright, last couple of things. Big thing to remember is that you are not your emotion. So I'm going to talk about emotions that have an element of thinking in it. So things like failure, or disappointment, right?
Oftentimes, we can wrapped get wrapped up in the idea that we actually are a failure are a disappointment instead of just that we feel that way.
What I want you to envision is that you are like the sky. Your emotions are like the weather that floats across the sky. It will change and flow there will be cloudy days and storms. But always constant as a constant behind those emotions is you. You are not your emotion. Okay. Well, last but not least, I want you to practice loving. And in the absence of an ability to do that, respecting or accepting your emotions, like we talked about before.
All emotions serve a purpose.
All emotions have a cause.
This is your body trying to communicate something to you, even if that thing isn't particularly helpful, right?
So if I have a fear of needles, I might recognize that that isn't justified in a given situation if I'm like in a doctor's office meeting to get my flu shot. And yet I can still respect the fact that my brain is trying to keep me safe. Right?
I don't have to fight with that emotion. It's there for a purpose.
We will practice mindfulness to emotions here soon.