03 Mar Mindfulness and your emotions
Jared’s emotions often feel overwhelming. Here’s what he thinks:
“I’m so stressed out I can’t think straight.”
“I’m scared of going out.”
“I’m nervous about being seen alone.”
“I’m depressed all the time.”
Emotions are intense during the teen years. That’s literally because of the way the brain is forming. Your brain has an emotional part to it that is on fire right now – how totally unfair is that? Plus, your brain is bathed in hormones that can make you experience more intense emotions and larger mood swings (feel familiar?). But! You do not have to be a slave to your emotions! You can be in control of your thoughts and feelings. Mindfulness actually helps you do this.
This is because mindfulness helps manage the underlying emotional triggers that upset you. Mindfulness helps you to feel more in control. When an emotion happens, mindfulness helps you to become aware of that emotion and then to label it in a way that benefits you rather than sends you into hyperspace. This skill allows you to become more resilient, compassionate and empathic. How great is that? When you build your emotion labeling skills, you gain distance from your emotions and they are less likely to overwhelm you. Hence, you feel better overall.
When you become more mindful, you are slowing down your mind and training it to be more present – to notice what’s happening in the moment and to think before responding. Here’s an example:
Before mindfulness: You’re at a party and a nasty girl who is always trying to cut you down comes over and gives you a death stare. Your mind starts racing and you feel intimidated by her so you run off and start saying all sorts of negative things in your mind that do not make you feel better and likely give her the power.
After mindfulness: Same party. Same girl. Same thing: You notice that your heart starts beating a bit faster but then you think, “My heart is racing because no one likes to be around negative people. But she doesn’t control me. I do.” So you simply stare back, feel how less stressed you are and then realize you find the whole situation stupid so you walk away. You find your friends and move on with the evening.
When you become aware of the emotion rising in your body and label it, then you can control it. You choose how it will affect you. When you choose to not let it affect you, boom! You feel so much better.
Here’s another way you can weave mindfulness into your day.
Do you walk to school? As you walk that same old routine for the millionth time, add some mindfulness to the mix. Walk in a rhythm with your breathing. See how many steps you can take on an inhale, then an exhale. Focus on nothing but the pattern of breathing. When you arrive at school, notice if the walk went by faster and if you were able to keep negative thoughts at bay during your walk. These simple “steps” are hugely beneficial to your mind;-).
As you gain more control over your emotions and as you become more compassionate toward others, you may notice the impact on your social world, which is the focus of the next post.
How mindful of your emotions are you? Do you ever hear yourself labeling what you are feeling in your head?