When Mindfulness doesn’t Work: The Emotional Messaging Service

A lot of my teaching is based on using mindfulness/CBT-based strategies to notice unhelpful thinking and behavioural habits.  If, for example, a child is in a state of panic every time they have to speak in class, we can find a way to work with these feelings, rather than against, learning to speak despite them. This might involve changing pictures in our mind, challenging unhelpful thoughts, or sending our focus elsewhere.

Lately though, I’ve been thinking a lot about those other feelings and emotions – the ones that come back, even when your thoughts and pictures aren’t working against you.

But what about the thoughts and feelings that just won’t shift?

It’s the Emotional Messaging Service, delivering important news from the recesses of your brain where your core values live.

And no amount of mindfulness will help – these feelings will only be alleviated with a definite course of action or a solid change of perspective.

If it’s Anger, for example, then perhaps our life rules or boundaries have been violated, either by us or somewhere else. So depending on the situation, we can either let it drop – recognising that we all have different ‘life rules’ and boundaries, and this really isn’t worth getting upset about – or we can take action, explaining why we’re angry; what this isn’t okay; demanding justice if justice can be had.

Either way, something has to be done; something that can’t be found in a packet of donuts, a bottle of wine, or an afternoon spent distracting ourselves via a screen.

So if you’ve got some thoughts or feelings that just won’t go away… maybe it’s time to open that message and see what it has to say, and do whatever it is you need to do in order to set your mind at ease.

Or get used to discomfort – because it isn’t going anywhere.

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