Paying Attention to Difficult Emotions

“People deal too much with the negative, with what is wrong. Why not try and see positive things, to just touch those things and make them bloom?” -Thich Nhat Hahn

Undoubtedly, you experience negative emotions from time to time based on your life circumstances: unwanted aspects, unfulfilled desires, fear for the future, regret about past events, etc. We all do. Feeling negative or difficult emotions is a normal part of life. While mindfulness may seem like a sufficient practice to deal with little stresses and frustrations, you may wonder how it could really help when the weighty issues of life are bearing down on you.

Research has shown that when emotions, positive and negative, are properly processed, they only last 90 seconds in the mind and body. So when you have lingering emotions, this indicates that you have not adequately processed the emotion for it to run its course and left your conscious in preparation for the next wave of emotion.

Using mindfulness techniques, when you are experiencing difficult or negative emotions, you can ground yourself in the present moment, accept the emotions, notice how your senses are affected, treat the emotion with kindness and compassion, and then apply the proper perspective to the situation without judgment. This will allow you to take control of your emotions and the way they impact your mind and body, rather than letting your natural fight or flight instincts immediately take over.

Today’s Exercise:

  • Throughout the course of the day, be aware of your emotions
  • When you experience a negative emotion, do not distract yourself from it, but accept it
  • Face the emotion straight on, recognizing where it came from and how it makes you feel mentally, emotionally, and physically
  • Bring your focus to the present moment and remind yourself of 3 positive things in your life
  • Allow the emotion to take its course and bring it into the proper perspective of your “big picture” goals and desires
  • Try to intentionally do something positive for yourself today
    • Take a walk in the park
    • Call a friend
    • Order take out
    • Invest in a new relationship
    • Write out some goals for the coming weeks, months, and years

Today’s Affirmation:

I am in the present moment. I can process my emotions through the lens of the right perspective. I have everything I need.

Looking Ahead:

Tomorrow is the last day of this series, and we look forward to discussing with you some more complex mindfulness exercises to help you along your journey.

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