Mindfulness is a Tool for Overcoming Overwhelming Emotions
Let’s face it. It happens.
We all have good days and bad days.
Some moments, we hope to hold onto forever, and some we can’t wait to pass.
I know that, as humans, we will have experiences that are meant to teach us how to overcome our emotions, and we’ll also have moments where we feel like we have absolutely no control. There will be times we get so overwhelmed by the feelings and thoughts that pass through our head, it just feels like there’s no way out.
And, it happens. That’s life.
But is there really no way to relieve ourselves from the times we feel so overwhelmed by our emotions? There must be something we can do to allow ourselves to feel the ups and downs of life, without having to over-endure any harmful situations.
I realized that if there’s any tips out there, on how we can learn to overcome this emotional adversity, I should learn to figure it out.
I tend to live in an up-swing of good and bad moods, so for myself and to help others, I’m determined to find some solutions to help ease these times, and get you on a more constructive and empowered momentum.
Here's a list of my tips on how to overcome powerful negative emotions.
If you can’t control how you feel, learn to manage your response to how your feeling.
This one’s dedicated to the times we just happen to wake up on the wrong side of the bed. We start our day feeling completely out-of-wack, and for some reason things get worse and worse by the minute. I know how it feels to fight with your emotions. Your body and mind feel a certain way and it goes completely against what you consciously want; yet, for some reason you just can’t get yourself to feel (or act) any better.
So, rather than beating yourself up over how you’re feeling and get even more upset with yourself for not being on your best behavior, try to shift your perspective to become more curious about what’s going on inside you.
Understand that the body comes with a series of psycho-electric charges, and each one of these will affect your mood. Sometimes you’ll be able to control how you’re feeling, sometimes you won’t.
During the times you can’t talk yourself out of being upset, ask yourself what it is you’re feeling. Asking a series of questions towards your emotions allows you to connect with your body and emotions and gain an insight towards each emotion.
“What am I feeling?”
“What emotions are active within me?”
“What triggered/caused this harmful emotion?”
“What is this experience trying to teach me?”
And whether or not you get any sort of response – you’ll at least have shifted your perspective from fighting what’s going on, to wondering (without judgment) what’s happening inside you.
Humans experience changing emotions at every moment of the day. It’s a part of our humanity, and it’s a part of learning to live life. When we experience negativity and upsetting emotions, rather than choosing to push ourselves even further down, with badgering self-talk and hurtful judgments, we can use our awareness and self-love to help overcome these moments.
Aside from practicing the concept of “Self-inquiry,” which is based on becoming curious about the inner processes of our emotions; Self-compassion is another way of accepting and freeing ourselves from the harmful grip of negativity.
Self-compassion is the act of being mindful, non-judgmental, kind and understanding towards ourselves. It relieves us entirely of the down-talk and inner-critic that we experience in the face of negativity, using our nurturing and caring nature to overcome these emotions.
Imperfection is part of the shared human experience, and imperfect emotions are much included in so. So, next time you begin to feel these negative emotions and you notice your internal self-judgments, practice being warm and kind to yourself, understanding that you, just as much as anyone else, are worthy of happiness – and that moments like these are just temporary.
And speaking of temporary moments, this next tip should serve you well.
When the anger and depression set in, and the inner critic works itself up, it’s all-too-easy to get caught up in our heads. I just want to give you a good heads up, there is nothing you should ever listen to, when it comes to your negative self-talk.
Your thoughts are a product of your emotions, changing tone and chatter with the type of energy you’re feeling. So, rather than listening to the incessant babble of your negative mind, ease yourself back to the present moment.
Don’t look inwards and take time out of your day to listen to its negativity, and no matter how convincing or in-need-of-response you think your inner-critic becomes, just become aware of the chatter, and focus on the present moment.
And just one more disclaimer, do not focus on the thoughts in your mind presently, but actually the present moment. The neutral, ever-changing, and quiet present moment.
I know what you’re thinking… Even before I start… “How is it remotely possible to be grateful in a shitty time like this?”
I’m glad you asked, because the truth is: it is very possible, and I actually recommend it.
So how, and why, should you practice being grateful when your day has taken a turn for the worst.
Well...The answer is simple. Focus.
In the overwhelming face of negative emotions, where do you think your focus is at? It’s narrowed down to the thoughts, sensations and emotions that your negative state is feeling. By practicing gratitude, you’re meant to look at the other side of the story, and focus on finding things that you can be happy about.
How’s the weather today?
How is everyone around you?
Is there a particular person, thing or scenery that you’re thankful for?
By practicing the art of gratitude, you turn your attention from the inward torment, to the outward (and even inward) beauty. It is difficult, especially in the face of nothing but ugliness – to find a light and strength to the moment, but it’s worth it and it always will be.
Even if it gives you hope and relief for a single moment, the impact will be much greater than you think.
Meditating takes all the amazing benefits of focusing our attention on gratitude, self-compassion and self-inquiry, and puts them altogether in one form.
It takes the curiosity, acceptance and non-judgment from our first technique, combines in with the love, kindness and nurturing from our second method, and marries it with the focus on beauty from our practice of gratitude.
Meditation is a practice of contemplation and detachment that allows you to view yourself without expectations or judgment. It is an activity of focus that aims to achieve a mental and emotional state of calm; a technique of love and inquiry that is meant to help individuals gain a new perspective of themselves and acquire deeper self-awareness.
Put some time and energy aside, to sit there with yourself and simply watch. Whatever happens in your mind, watch it as a separate entity and allow yourself to observe it non-judgmentally. See it as it is, and what’s going on inside of you. Bring your awareness towards your body, and notice the sensations that arise. Do not label your feelings as good or bad, simply watch them act as they do and how they make you feel.
With enough focus and practice, you’ll be able to distinguish yourself from your emotions entirely, and this will result in lessening the grip of your sensations. It will also help alleviate the current symptoms of your negativity, and relieve you of the mental chatter, as you will no longer identify with the thoughts that are playing in your mind.
With cases of over-whelming energy, working out helps get it out. Do a high intensity, cardio or heavy workout to assist you in shedding the additional energy you may have roaming in your body. A good workout, or even a deep yoga session are extremely beneficial to changing the overall flow and momentum of your physical self.
Eat a healthy snack.
Does anyone else turn into a raging crazy person when they’re hungry? I know I do. If I’m even the slightest bit hungry when I’m upset, everything goes downhill from there. Save yourself the unnecessary additional anger of a belly ache, and just pull out a healthy snack. Be careful not to over-indulge, because this can turn out to be counter-productive.
And last, but certainly not least…
Get/Give a hug.
Everyone needs a hug every now and then, and for you, now would be better than later.
One of the best cures for anger and loneliness are a warm and compassionate hug.
And believe me when I say, I’m aware that any overwhelming emotion can lead you to believe that a hug will make things worse, but trust me when I say it will do you better.
There’s just something about taking time and energy out of our anger to focus and give love, that will drastically turn things around… despite what you might think. Next time you feel overwhelmed by negativity, do everything in your power to set aside your emotions and push yourself, even for one moment, to give someone a hug.
So here’s to conquering our madness. With the slightest bit of love, focus and determination, we can set the wheels in motion for better days.
Keep practicing these techniques whenever you notice you’ve fallen back into the grip of your emotions, and even in moments of a good day. You will distinguish the relationship between you as the witness, and your emotions as energy in motion. Eventually they will diminish their power over you altogether.
This was an article on using Mindfulness as a tool to overcome overwhelming emotions. Let me know what you think!