Emotional mindfulness promotes healing. It requires you to think about what sparks your emotions, how you process them, and ultimately—how you let go of your emotions (or continue holding on to them).
Let’s start at the beginning. Think about how often emotions arise in you throughout any given day. Maybe you noticed anxiety starting to bubble up last week. Maybe feelings of anger or frustration reared their heads at some point yesterday. Or, maybe you’ve been feeling gleeful joy for the past few hours. Noticing these emotions is certainly a critical step, but pinpointing what sparks them might be even more important.
When we bring mindfulness into our emotions, we are able to detect the onset of an emotional change. This allows us to immediately bring attention to our thoughts.
By bringing attention to your thoughts right away, you might recognize that maybe you are feeling anxious because you suddenly remembered the work project due next week that slipped your mind. You might be feeling angry because you began subconsciously reflecting on an argument you had last week with your partner. Maybe those feelings of gleeful joy have been hanging around because you’ve kept your thinking positive and your mind fairly clear.
Knowing what sparked the emotional change in us gives us control over what can sometimes feel like a daily or weekly emotional roller coaster. With careful inspection of our thoughts overtime we will be able to identify our triggers and be more able to cope with our emotions.
If you’re ready to start taking back control over your emotions, bringing mindful attention to your thoughts surrounding them is a great place to start.
Mindfulness allows us to handle our emotions more effectively because if we are paying close attention to what we’re thinking when our emotional changes occur, we become more apt to reduce the thoughts that bring about negative emotions and increase the thoughts (or lack thereof) that produce positive emotions.
Take, for example, that moment you begin feeling anger and frustration. You paused, and you realized that your mind drifted back to a fight you had last week with your partner. Once you have this realization, you now have the choice of what to do next. If you continue to ruminate and obsess over that fight, you might feel your anger continue to build. But, if you allow yourself to shift your thoughts into something more positive (maybe replacing those memories of fighting with a positive memory of your partner), you will begin to feel a shift in your emotions.
By choosing to change your thoughts, you’re allowing your emotions to follow suit, thus reaping the benefits by feeling more calm, centered, and at peace.
Now, if this fight from last week wasn’t actually resolved, choosing to change your thoughts doesn’t make the bigger problem go away. But, if you allow yourself to relax, you will most likely be more level-headed in your approach to speaking with your partner about whatever it is that’s still upsetting you—thus hopefully leading to a more productive discussion rather than a heated argument.
This is what mindfulness affords us: the opportunity to bring more attention into our thoughts so that we can have more control over our emotions. By having more control over our emotions, we can make less impulsive, emotion-driven decisions.
We cannot control the behaviors of others around us or the circumstances which may cause us some grief but we do have control of how we respond to those behaviors and circumstances by choosing to focus our thoughts on harmony and peace.
An added bonus of mindfulness is the peace that it brings with it.