You are having a bad day. Maybe you are fighting with your spouse or somebody just bumped into your car. Maybe your boss just shouted at you and you don’t have anyone to talk to. Or maybe you’re panicking because you’re running out of money. Whatever the reason, you are an emotional mess. Don’t panic! The practice of mindfulness can help.
Counseling 101: Don’t run
The first thing most people want to do when faced with pain of any sort, be it physical or emotional is to run from it. You may feel the need to take medications to sooth yourself or comfort yourself with alcohol or drugs. You feel the strong urge to numb the pain.
Emotional pain is harder to run from than physical pain but the desire to escape is the same: an all-consuming obsession to get rid of the unpleasantness.
Unfortunately with psychological pain, the more you try to flee or run away, the more these emotions will pursue you. You may run to drugs, alcohol, pornography, or other quick fixes to temporarily blunt the pain, but the guilt and shame associated with these behaviors will be quick to follow. Worst of all, the feeling that triggered it all will come surging back with a vengeance!
Counseling 102: Mindfulness
First of all, take a deep breath. Tell yourself to stop running. Yes, you are in pain. It’s OK. Don’t deny it. This is not fun. Don’t be hard on yourself; you are not a failure. It takes time to develop tolerance for these unpleasant feelings but as you practice this, things will start to shift.
Try to practice some curiosity:
- Observe yourself with curiosity
- Observe the situation with curiosity
- Observe the way you feel with curiosity
- Locate the sensations these feelings are creating in your body
What you are doing is called Floating with the Feeling. You accept that you are not feeling great and you are actively exploring the feeling, rather than running from it. Try to practice remaining with your observations versus going to the usual fix.
This process is called Mindfulness. You step outside of the situation to observe what’s going on in a non-threatening way, almost like befriending the sensation versus trying to kill it.
Keep practicing these new behaviors, like casualness and curious exploration versus desperation and damning introspection. This is a positive step towards developing emotional maturity.
The good news is, the more you practice, the better you’ll get at it!
Contact me for a free counseling consultation today. My counseling practice is situated in Monterey and my contact number is 831-444-1747.
PS: I accept payment from several insurances and payers: Aspire, Coastal, MBIPA, MHN, HMC Healthworks, Victims of Crime. Check on your insurance card under Mental Health benefits to verify what coverage you have.
Many clients pay cash for their sessions (my fee is $125 per session or lower negotiated rate in special circumstances) and then submit the superbill provided by me to their insurance for possible reimbursement. See here under the FAQ section for some more information.