25 Jul Mindfulness of Current Emotion, The Often Overlooked Emotion Regulation Skill
When emotional dysregulation hits, those familiar with DBT often reach for the ice pack. While it’s true, the DBT TIP Skills are powerful tools for helping you regulate your emotions quickly and survive a crisis, in many cases, you might be better off using Mindfulness of Current Emotion. TIP skills (Tipping the temperature of your face—doing an ice dive or applying an ice pack, Intense Exercise, Paced Breathing, Paired Muscle Relaxation) are very useful when regaining composure quickly is very important—you are in class or at work when you become dysregulated, when dysregulation is severe and destructive urges are high, or other circumstances where you cannot wait the emotion out. However whenever possible, sitting with the emotion and just allowing it can be the most effective skill you can use.
Mindfulness of Current Emotion involves simply allowing yourself to feel the emotion. Where do you feel it in your body? What thoughts are arising within you? Can you speak to the emotion? Invite it in and give it a seat at the table? Welcome it, but don’t attach to it. Allow it to hang around as long as it needs to. Think of it like exposure therapy, a premiere treatment for anxiety. If you never allow yourself to feel your emotions, you’ll never get used to them. If you allow yourself to fully experience them, they will become familiar, and ultimately, less scary. They will have less control over you.
Always trying to get rid of an emotion, push it away, or hide from it, usually has the effect of strengthening the emotion. If you don’t fight it, you’ll typically discover that you CAN stand it, and it really doesn’t stick around that long. If you haven’t seen it, there is a very funny video on youtube that is a metaphor for allowing your emotions. What would happen if your unwanted emotions crashed your party? Would you throw them out or allow them to stay? Check it out in the link below.
Remember that allowing your emotions to come and go is a skill. It’s like building a muscle. The more practice you have at tolerating the discomfort of different emotions, the less catastrophic they will feel. You will build confidence in your ability to handle anything that comes your way.
The Unwelcome Party Guest by Joe Oliver