Last week I spoke about how to create a diet of mindfulness in your life and focused on the mental aspects.
This week I will focus on the emotional aspects of mindfulness.
Why? In my experience, inability to regulate our emotions is the number one reason we don't achieve success (however we define success) in our life.
Quite simply, our emotions are far too powerful and will usually win out. I speak about this in more detail on pages 56-58 of my book, Reclaiming Joy.
So, what are the emotional aspects of mindfulness?
They are our feelings and how we relate to the world around us!!
Examples: happy, sad, peaceful, anxious, patient, frustrated, etc.
How can I practice a diet of emotional mindfulness?
Know your triggers. Meaning, what people/situations cause you to lose yourself in your emotions? By lose yourself I mean your emotions take over. There is no rational thought. It's as if you have been possessed!!
Note: this isn't only "unpleasant" emotions. I am also talking about those exhilarating emotions that at times seem addicting.
How do I manage/balance my emotions in order to live mindfully?
Meditation of course! And also by learning about your triggers. As with the mental aspects, once you have awareness/knowledge, you will be able to take the second step which is to find ways to manage your emotions in a way that allows you to stay in control of your energy.
A formula I use and have found very helpful for this is what I call D4:
Disengage- When you find yourself caught up in the emotion, take a few steps back. Give mental and sometimes physical space to whatever is going on. Take as much time as you need to return to balance.
Discern- The gift of taking space reveals wisdom to us about "what is really going on". This helps us return to a clearer perspective.
Decide- With a clearer perspective, you will be better able to make decisions.
Do- Take action steps in support of your decision.
Trigger- Feeling taken advantage of. You are a generous person. Someone in your life who you love often makes you feel like they are always taking from you and not giving back!!
Here's how the formula works:
Disengage- Take space from thinking about how you are feeling. Often we continue to run the mental tape of thinking which then keeps us on the emotional roller coaster.
Discern- In the space taken, you realize you "over-give" and some people come to expect this. As well, you often expect something in return when you give. Meaning, you are attached to the outcome of your giving. You realize this attachment keeps you on the roller coaster!
Decide- You realize you have to pull back on giving so much of yourself in general. You decide you will set firmer boundaries, and do a better job of managing the energy you give out.
Do- Based on the above decisions, next time you engage with this person, try something different/opposite of what you would usually do. Be compassionate with yourself.
Try it and tell me what are you noticing?
A final thought by one of my favorites, Mark Nepo, "The emotional patterns of our lives are very strong. They often come into being because we've needed them to survive, but sooner or later, we all arrive at moments where the very thing that has saved us is killing us, keeping us from truly living...and... there is, after all, a difference between helping someone because if you don't you will lose their love or some sense of your own image as a caring person, and helping someone because your impulse of heart moves you to their aid."