"Letting Go of Emotional Suffering through Mindfulness"
When faced with intense emotions people often want to do everything in their power to not feel that emotion. This form of distracting one’s self from the emotion could be experienced in the form of substance abuse (drinking away the pain, using drugs to have an altered state of mind), avoiding (pretending the situation that caused the uncomfortable emotions didn’t happen), selecting another emotion that feels more comfortable (being angry because depression has a stigma of a mental illness) or self-soothing (by overeating, over-exercising, shopping sprees) or in a more healthy way by entering therapy. Instead of avoiding the uncomfortable emotion, which ultimately internalizes and can manifest into mental health symptoms, utilize mindfulness techniques to work through the emotion. The following process is skill based and can be learned and implemented by anyone plagued by emotional suffering:
- Observe Your Emotion. When you begin to feel the uncomfortable emotion permeating your body observe the emotion. Imagine taking a look at the emotion from outside of your body. Note its presence, perhaps by even identifying the emotion (“I feel upset right now”). Separate yourself from the emotion and get unstuck. Even visualize the emotion as a separate object outside the body
- Experience Your Emotion. Now that you have observed your emotion and can separate yourself from the feelings of overwhelm and suffocation, experience the emotion with acceptance. If you feel mad, you have every right to feel mad. You are permitted to feel whatever emotion comes over your body. Try not to block or suppress the emotion but feel the emotion, almost like a wave coming and going. Avoid attempts to get rid of or push the emotion away. The emotion will and can pass if you avoid holding onto it or amplifying it.
- You Are Not Your Emotion. You experience emotions; you are not your emotions. You might be tempted to want on to act on the emotion, such as yelling at your kids because your husband made you angry. Try to remember times when you have felt different or times that you have recovered from emotional suffering such as when a friend made you laugh and cheered you up after crying.
- Practice Loving Your Emotion. Avoid judging the emotion. We feel emotions for a reason so learn to accept what they are in order to heal and move forward from them. If you are willing to accept the feeling you have instead of trying to run from it you won’t run the risk of it manifesting itself into something worse or having to engage in unhealthy behaviors. Accept your emotion as it is to learn to let go.
By practicing these steps you’ll learn to let go of emotional suffering and live a happier, healthy life, hopefully without therapy.