How to Handle BIG Emotions

If you've ever caught yourself feeling really worried/scared, angry or upset about something, then this week's video is for you.  When we get sucked into those big emotions, they call that getting "hooked" by your emotions. What I'm going to teach you today is a mindfulness technique for how to get unhooked. So check out the video below for the full explanation.  

Getting Hooked is Normal

First of all, let me start by saying that this is completely normal. It's a part of the human experience to be hooked by our emotions from time to time, and what I want to teach you is how to get yourself unhooked before you say or do something that you might later regret.  Use the 3-step process below to loosen the grip of the big emotion and get yourself unhooked so you can deal with things in a calm and intentional way.  

Step 1: Stop

Step one is to catch yourself when you notice you're feeling a BIG emotion.  If you find that that's really difficult and you often don't catch yourself until after you've said or done something, then I want you check out my new stress management group below that I'll be running later in July.  I'll be teaching all sorts of techniques to help you learn how to catch some of those thoughts and emotions before you act on them and do something that you might later say or regret.

Step 2: Step Away

Step two is to step away for a moment.  Whether it's to walk away from the person that said something hurtful or that upset you, or to step away from that project you are working on and just take a break for a minute. Everybody has a different way of doing this, and if you'd like some tips for that, check out some of my prior blogs where I talk about ways to ground your nervous system and settle when you notice that you are feeling really worked up.  

My favorite thing is to go outside, maybe take a moment to smell the flowers, run my fingers through the grass. That helps settle my nervous system.  What works for you?

Step 3: Zoom Out

Once you've walked away, step three is to zoom out and recognize that whatever has you all worked up likely has more to do with your interpretation of the situation than anything else. It's similar to being at the movie theater:  When you go to the movies, the cinematography is amazing. The lighting, the sound effects, all of those things really suck you in so that you think that you're in the movie, and you start to feel all of the emotions that the characters in the movie feel, right? And that's how they design it.

The way that you're feeling in these moments when big emotions take over is not so different.   Except instead of the latest blockbuster plastered across the middle of the screen, it's all of your thoughts and interpretations about this most recent situation, So when you recognize that that's happening, what I want you to do is tear your eyes away from the big screen and turn around and imagine that you're looking behind you, and you can see the projector projecting all of these thoughts and interpretations onto the big screen, just like you would in a movie theater. 

Doing that helps you to zoom out a little bit from being all caught up in the story, to recognizing that it's actually a movie that's playing.  And you are the one behind the projector, and you control what thoughts and interpretations are plastered across that screen.  That gives you an opportunity to distance yourself from them, to look at them, to hold them up and go, "Wait a minute, is this true? Could there be another interpretation of this?" Because oftentimes our interpretation is what's getting us so upset.

So next time you catch yourself getting all caught up by some big emotion, I want you to try these three steps. I want you to stop, step away, and zoom out. 

If you find that that's difficult of you, or if you just need a little bit more practice and some peer support, then check out my new Stress Management Group that will be starting in Boulder, Colorado after the 4th of July, and we will practice techniques just like this to help you catch those big emotions before they result in you getting all caught up and made miserable by them or doing something you might later regret.  

Space in group is limited and is by application and interview only.  So check out the group page below and submit an interest form to apply  for a spot.  


For more information on how mindfulness can help you deal with big emotions, check out the Mindfulness page.