The Emotional Impact of Mindfulness - dummies

The Emotional Impact of Mindfulness

Emotions are tremendously influential on your behavior and thoughts, and thus, very important for mindful living. If you’re feeling low, you’re probably far more reluctant to go out with friends, or laugh at a joke, or work with zest. If you’re feeling great, you’re on top of things, everything feels easy and life flows easily.

How do you deal with emotions? Are you swept up by them, and just hope for the best? Mindfulness offers the opportunity to soothe and step back from emotional ups and downs.

Use mindfulness to understand your emotions

What is an emotion, a feeling or mood?

You experience emotion partly from a survival point of view. If you didn’t feel scared when faced with a raging bull, you’d find yourself in lots of trouble. Other emotions, like happiness, help to create social ties with those around you, increasing your security. Even depression is thought to have evolved for your protection, reducing motivation and therefore the chance of experiencing harm or wasting energy through pursuing a goal.

Emotion comes from a Latin word meaning to ‘move out’. If you observe emotions, you can discover certain important characteristics:

  • Emotions are always changing. You aren’t stuck with one emotion all your life, at the same intensity.

  • Emotions are a very physical experience. If you’re feeling anxious, you may feel a tingling in your stomach. If you’re feeling angry, you may feel your breathing and heart rate go up.

  • You can observe your own emotions. You can sense the difference between you and your emotions. You’re not your emotions, you’re the observer of your emotions.

  • Emotions make a huge impact on your thoughts. When you’re feeling down, you’re likely to predict negative things about you or other people. When you’re feeling happy, you’re more likely to think positive thoughts, predict positive outcomes and look upon the past in a positive light too.

  • Emotions tend to be pleasant, unpleasant or neutral.

Manage feelings differently with mindfulness

Take a few minutes to consider the following emotions, and how you deal with them:

  • Anger

  • Anxiety

  • Fear

  • Depression

Your approach may be to either avoid the emotion, or to express your feelings to whoever is nearby. Mindfulness offers an alternative – a way of meeting emotions that enables you to see them in a different light. The idea is to acknowledge and give mindful attention to difficult feelings rather than avoid or react to them. Surprisingly, this tends to dissipate the strength and the pain of the emotion.