What would happen if you actually felt your feelings? Sounds awful right? At least it does to many of the clients we work with at Mindful Healing.
What happens, if you are used to feelings being overwhelming and unmanageable your natural response is to avoid them and push them away. All distressing feelings become “the enemy.”
The problem with this is it actually makes things worse. If every time you feel distress you avoid it, you never learn to feel distress.
An important part of learning to tolerate difficult emotions is learning to Ride The Wave.
Here is the distinction:
Crisis Management Skills: When you are experiences overwhelming emotions that create an urge to engage in self-harm, impulsive, or self-destructive behavior it is recommended to use distraction skills to help you manage your feelings.
Emotion Regulation Skill: If you are feeling sad, anxious, lonely, stressed etc, avoiding your feelings will only make them worse. Buried feelings never die.
At Mindful Healing, we teach the DBT skill Riding the Wave to help clients learn how to tolerate distressing feelings without acting on negative impulses. We focus steps to learn and practice riding the wave:
- Notice and Observe the emotion
- Non-judgmentally notice how you are feeling
- Try to name the emotion if you can
- Accept the emotion
- Don’t try to avoid the emotion
- Don’t try to change the emotion
- Don’t judge the emotion
- Don’t attach yourself or values to the emotion
- Sit with the emotion
- Notice any physical sensations of the emotion
- Allow yourself to focus, experience, and breathe through the feeling
- Allow and Release the emotion
- Allow yourself to feel the emotion as it rises
- Know that the feeling has a peak, like a wave and will then fall. Be a witness to this process.
- All the emotion to pass. Don’t ruminate on it or get caught in a thinking trap