Reducing Over Identification With Our Emotions

Do you tend to over or closely identify with the emotions (or even the physical sensations) that you experience?  It is so easy to get caught up in our emotions, to let them carry us away, and to get confused and believe we ARE our emotions.  This can lead to us feeling emotionally distressed and dysregulated.  There is a strategy that may help reduce this issue.

Today in our DBT Mindfulness 1 class, one of our students talked about a skill she practiced over the past week to reduce this behavior to allow herself to also reduce her suffering and as well as increase her overall sense of well-being.

When she noticed a strong emotion arise, instead of saying, "I'm overwhelmed!!!", she shifted her language to "I am feeling overwhelmed right now."  The psychological impact of this shift include acknowledging that:

  • Overwhelm is a feeling.
  • You are not your feelings.
  • Feelings are temporary/transient states that will pass.

Another example of practicing this technique would be if you feel sad.  Instead of saying, "I am sad," (which, translated literally would mean "I am sadness,") consider tweaking your language to, "I am feeling sad right now," or "Sadness is passing through me," or "I am sad in this moment, but this, too, shall pass."

The same student who practiced this technique with emotions this week also practiced it during the mindfulness meditation that we did at the beginning of class.   During the meditation, she noticed that her hands and feet were cold.  Instead of saying, "I am cold," she noticed that she had the sensation of cold in those specific parts of her body.

The more we can re-train our brain by changing up the messages we send to it with the words we choose, the more emotionally resilient we can become.  Mindfulness practices like this can help greatly with getting into the habit of shifting this way and reminding us to look for opportunities to shift our thinking throughout our day.

For more information on skills and techniques that help us take hold of our mind and emotions, check out our online DBT Mindfulness class, and consider joining us to learn more.

Do you tend to closely or over identify with your emotions?  What language do you normally use with yourself when feeling intensely?  The challenge this week is to notice.  Please comment below with your thoughts.

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