Process Tough Feelings with Mindfulness
Sometimes there are certain words that strike us with intensity. Sometimes these are feeling words and other times they are thoughts that pack a lot of punch and cause strong feelings to surface. These thoughts and feelings can affect our energy levels and our overall experiences throughout the day, the week and beyond. A word in my brain as of late has been failure. Failure, with a big fat F. If you ever went to a school that used letter grading, F is *bad* and not something a person necessarily aspires to. In life, however, failure is not always a negative thing. Many of us may instinctively try to push our difficult feelings away, saying things to ourselves like, “No, I am not a failure!” or “Stop that, you can do it!” While we may be well intentioned trying to be our own motivator or cheerleader, there is another way to respond to our thoughts and feelings that may be better.
When we react negatively to our negative feelings or try to force ourselves to be positive, this simply continues the pattern of negative energy and can make us feel bad or wrong. Our Western culture may not be as naturally accepting of tough feelings, but difficult emotions are a part of the human experience. It is normal to have tough emotions like shame, anger, hopelessness, loneliness and grief, and we can learn how to help ourselves through these feelings. This is where mindfulness can come in. I use mindfulness on a regular basis for myself and with my clients. You can practice mindfulness, too, by using these techniques when you’re feeling like a failure, or having any other difficult feeling.
Find Your Space
Find a relaxing space and alone time to sit for a few minutes with yourself. Get comfortable in your seat. Meditate. Listen to some music that you like. Be in the present moment.
Find The Feeling
My example “feeling like a failure,” is not necessarily a feeling in itself, but more of a thought. If yours is a thought too, sit with that thought and be curious. What is the real feeling behind your thought? Behind “feeling like a failure” for me includes disappointment, sadness and frustration.
Acknowledge The Feeling
Be aware of the disappointment, sadness, frustration or whichever feeling it is that came up for you. Say hello, I hear you, I notice you.
Allow The Feeling
Continue to sit with yourself in this feeling and let go of any judgment or attachment to that feeling. Allow yourself to feel angry, lonely, hopeless or any other emotion that comes to you. Bring curiosity to the feeling and explore it without judgment.
Mindfulness isn’t always enough and other self care techniques may be important for you in tough times, too. It is important for us all to have a support system of friends, family and/or a therapist to reach out to. If you are looking for help or are interested in learning more about mindfulness in therapy, you are welcome to contact me for a free 15 minute consultation at 860-258-4171 or email me here.