This week, as you check in with your emotions and identify your feelings, take an extra moment to be curious about the thoughts and beliefs behind that mood.
TO HELP CHANGE YOUR MOOD, ASK YOURSELF:
Are you angry? Do you believe someone doesn’t care about you? Do you believe you won’t succeed at something? Check to see if these beliefs are true.
Are you anxious? Do you believe something bad is about to happen or that you will fail? Check the facts to see if these beliefs are accurate! As you identify more of these hidden beliefs that are leading to emotional pain, you will be able to catch yourself and change your thoughts. Turn your negative beliefs around, and your emotions will follow!
Experience is not what happens to you–it’s how you interpret what happens to you.
When loved ones intervened in my self-harm attempts, dysphoria made it hard for me to see or accept the help for what it was. As they tried to remove the sharp object or called emergency services, I would scream and fight like a wild animal. At that moment I truly believed they weren’t there to help. My brain and body were flooded with the message that I was under attack.
Overwhelming fear says “this person is threatening me”
The Borderline Personality Disorder brain has trouble with overwhelming emotions that can hijack information-processing and behavior. Overwhelming fear says “this person is threatening me!” Whether it is a real or imagined threat of abandonment, the threat of being rejected, the terror of being out of control…the fear response takes over.
Overwhelming anger says “this person is attacking me”
Overwhelming fear leads to anger as a defense mechanism. It’s important to realize that anger is often a secondary reaction to feeling vulnerable. The BPD brain turns anger to rage in an instant, falsely assuming that angry attacks will protect it from further pain or harm. It’s all an attempt to survive a situation that is emotionally too painful to bear.
Ultimately the quick-acting, intense emotional experiences of the person with Borderline Personality Disorder can distort the facts of reality sometimes. Overwhelm can lead us to mistake words, actions, and body language as personal attacks and threats to our well-being. We may see help as harm, and attempts to keep us safe or get us to calm down as attempts to control or manipulate us. Remember, these are not deliberate twistings of the intentions of people who truly love us. These are quick, automatic survival responses that may take time to re-learn and change.
A beginner’s guide to mindfulness couldn’t possibly teach you everything you need to know in order to master the art. Yet even a very basic understanding can give you amazing insight into your thoughts and emotions. Here are a few quick steps to get you started.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is waking up from the distracting influences of life in order to experience it in full. For example, distractions can include things like overwhelming emotions, addictive urges, negative thoughts, and even physical pain. We gain freedom by living in the present moment without judging ourselves or our experiences, and without pushing emotions away by numbing or suppressing them.
How do I begin doing this?
Thankfully, the process is quite simple. The hard part is practicing often enough that the habit of controlling attention becomes second-nature. There are three basic steps:
Bring all of your attention to focus on one thing. Notice the thoughts and feelings that come up without analyzing them or reacting to them.
Identify what you notice, using language that is factual. Don’t add in assumptions, judgmental statements, or interpretations. Stick to what you observe with your five senses.
Allow the experience within you to occur. Recognize distractions but gently come back to experiencing the present moment.
As you learn to control your attention, you will no longer need a beginner’s guide to mindfulness. Through practice, you can create countless moments of peace throughout your day and enter into the flow of life as it happens.
What’s the next step?
Before you begin searching for your favorite mindfulness techniques, take a moment to reflect. What people, things, or situations need more of your attention? What distracts you the most? Which thoughts and feelings have you been pushing away?
Do you find yourself ruminating a lot? Which worries do you want to decrease?
And don’t forget about those positive experiences! What types of things can you pay more attention to that give you pleasant thoughts and emotions?
Grab a sheet of paper and write down some of your mindfulness goals. List the things you want to be more aware of, and why. And then get ready to take action towards living a mindful life!
If you would like some help creating a mindfulness lifestyle that fits your schedule and your personality, click the button below to ask about our one-on-one coaching programs! You’ll be a master of mindfulness in no time!
It’s not easy to stop self-injuring on your own, but there are a few quick tricks you can use to catch those urges before acting on them. All emotional responses can motivate us to do things, but sometimes these things aren’t great for us in the long-run. So how do we stop ourselves from acting on these urges when they are SO STRONG? Here’s my #1 tip to stop self-injuring before it happens.
Change Your Body Temperature to Stop Self-Injuring
It sounds too simple to be true, but simply by changing your body temperature you can have a significant impact on your mood, thoughts, and urges. To stop self-injuring, we start with the body.
Emotions have a physical response that comes with them. By changing the physical response in your body, you can actually produce a change in the thoughts and emotions! Changing a physical response in your body is quite easy, in fact.
All it takes is a quick shower, a dive in a pool, or a few jumping jacks to not only change your temperature but your heart rate, breathing rate, and more. These physical changes have an effect on your brain. It’s more than just distraction, although the distraction helps. It’s a physical change in your central nervous system, which sends your brain a message to “switch gears.”
When you are overwhelmed with the urge to self-injure, changing your body can be easier than changing your mind. Try it out: hop in the shower the next time you feel that pull towards self-harm or self-sabotage. See if the intensity of the urge changes after you change your body temperature!
Click below to learn more about how the brain influences your emotions, and what you can do to take control of your recovery.
We often avoid painful feelings because… well because they are unpleasant. We numb them with substances or distract with activities or mindlessly scroll through social media. Distracting can help us get through tough times, but as a long-term problem-solving tactic, it’s pretty useless.
Why Avoiding the Pain Doesn’t Work
Research shows that stuffing and suppressing emotions actually doesn’t work to alleviate them. Instead, it leads to more problems.
Emotions that get locked away end up becoming stronger and more persistent. You know when someone tells you to stop thinking about something, and instead of stopping you’re thinking about it MORE? It’s like that. The more we ignore painful emotions, the more they are going to try and cut in to get your attention.
The 3 Main Reasons Painful Feelings are Valuable
This leads me to the main point of this article: why do my painful emotions keep cutting in when I’m trying to avoid them so much? What’s the benefit of experiencing the pain when I know it is going to hurt so badly?
Unpleasant feelings supply you with important data; vital information that you need to make effective decisions.
When you put your hand on a hot stove, the physical pain lets you know that your body is being damaged and leads you to pull your hand away, never touching the hot stove again. Without that vital information, the body would not respond to avoid further damage. The same goes for emotional pain. It lets you know when something needs attention, and motivates you to take specific action.
Even without intending to, our emotions communicate to others. Painful emotions can affect those around us as well as ourselves.
Emotional responses are so automatic that our facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice can reflect an emotion even without communication in words. For example, defensiveness and insecurity can quickly register on your face and send a message to the people around you to back off. If you are trying to make friends, this can become a nuisance. By building emotions of confidence and openness you can communicate in a way that will draw people TOWARDS you instead of away from you.
Painful emotions are your body’s way of helping you survive.
As human beings, we require human connection, and painful emotions like loneliness can spur us to take action and reach out to loved ones. Sometimes, we are in situations where we need to escape or defend ourselves. Anger and fear can contribute to taking action to protect or seek shelter. Ignoring or avoiding emotional responses can quite literally put us in danger or keep us from human interaction.
Instead of continuing to mindlessly go through life ignoring or actively avoiding painful feelings, take some time each day to pay attention to what they are communicating to you.