In our last +1, we talked about the fact that Suffering = Pain x Resistance.
I briefly mentioned one way to reduce our suffering—simply labeling the difficult emotion you may be experiencing. Let’s talk about that a little more.
This is one of the key practices of mindfulness. Research shows that it works in reducing the negative effects of painful emotions.
Different mindfulness teachers give the practice a different name. Some call it “labeling.” Dan Siegel tells us we need to “name it to tame it.”
I like that: “Name it to tame it.”
The basic idea: When you’re experiencing a difficult emotion—whether it’s anger or sadness or overwhelm or whatever—it’s REALLY powerful to simply notice that you’re experiencing that emotion and then simply label it.
“Anger.” “Sadness.” “Overwhelm.”
What happens when we do that is that we switch from spinning around in mental loops (with an overactive limbic system/amygdala) as we move up into our prefrontal cortex—which is a really good idea if we don’t want to get swamped with those primitive emotions.
Note: We’re not talking about going into a long archeological dig every time you’re experiencing a challenging emotion. That can quickly devolve into unproductive rumination.
Simply use a word or two to label the negative emotion. Take a deep breath. Move on.
Perhaps after that labeling work you can ask yourself (with a smile, of course!): “Now what needs to get done?”
And then go do it. 😃
+1. +1. +1.