"How to Gain Control of Your Negative Emotions"
by Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.
“Whether it's sadness, fear, shame, guilt or anger, sometimes when these are here, all we want to do is be somewhere else and it seems like it's going to last forever. Here's one practice to consider in regaining control of your mind during the difficult moments in life. Try this as an experiment: When an uncomfortable emotions arises, ask yourself the honest question, "How long is this going to last?" See it as a moment of investigation, a chance to really get to know how you operate. No longer are you caught in the stress cycle of thoughts, emotions and sensations compounding on one another creating a snowball reaction (that actually makes it all last that much longer), but instead you have stepped outside of it and become curious about it.
Your mind needs the understanding and experience of how emotions or moods operate in order to not get so stressed and afraid of them when they arise. You can't control the initial snap judgment that leads to that emotional reaction, but you can control how you're going to understand and relate to the feeling or mood once it's here. Is it going to be with the attitude of, "Oh I hate this, this is going to last forever," or "Let's see how long this lasts." One is a mindless approach; the other is a more mindful approach.
But without automatically judging the mindfulness approach as better, why not see for yourself and let your experience be your teacher? Try this out and let us know what you find. How long does it last? What shape does it take in your body and what happens to it over time? Does the sensation in the body change or stay the same? Does it move somewhere else? Does a color come to mind and does that shift or stay the same? Allow this to be an opportunity to, as Derek Walcott says in his poem "Love After Love," "reintroduce the stranger who was yourself."
"Love After Love"
"The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life."
- Derek Walcott