Summary: Module 3 - Therapy: Awareness of Your Emotions

Mindful Emotion Awareness

This is a summary of the module Mindful Emotion Awareness for your reference.

In this module, you will learn how to practice mindful emotion awareness.

Mindfulness means paying attention to the present moment in a non-judgmental way.

Being mindful of your emotions can help you cope with negative reactions to emotional experiences.

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This skill is represented by the second floor of the house. It builds on the last module where you gained an understanding of emotions.

Next, we’ll look at the two parts of mindful emotion awareness: nonjudgment and staying present). 

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Nonjudgement

You may judge yourself for not feeling the way you “think you should.” 

But since emotions are natural and part of who we are, judging them doesn’t help. You cannot completely control your emotions, so judging them as “bad” or wishing they would go away only adds more difficulty and makes the emotion stronger.

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You may judge one part of an emotional experience - either your thoughts, physical sensations, or behaviors. This often causes your negative emotions to worsen.

For example, thinking “I can’t cope with my racing heart and sweaty palms,” may worsen the physical sensations.

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It means recognizing uncomfortable emotions and focusing on their meaning - what they’re trying to tell you.

With practice, you can learn to mindfully notice emotions without judgment. At first, this may mean noticing when we do make judgments. This is an important first step. 

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Staying Present With mindful emotion awareness, you are able to notice your emotions as they happen in the moment.  This makes the emotion more manageable, because you can cope with it. You can use the information your emotions provide to guide your response.

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Example: The Job Interview

You are about to interview for a new job. You begin to feel nervous and start to think about a past experience where the interview did not go as well as you planned. 

By being present, this experience can be much different. Instead of focusing on what could happen or what has happened, you think to yourself, “I am feeling nervous because I am excited about this new opportunity. I have prepared myself the best I can.”

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How could staying in the moment help you when you’re having strong emotions?

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Present-focused awareness also helps you connect with your positive emotions. In the last example, you realize that your nervousness was due to excitement about the job opportunity. 

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Take a moment to think about a time when you were “in the moment” and felt happy, proud, enthusiastic, or love.

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Mindful Emotion Awareness Meditation

It takes practice to develop mindful emotion awareness. One way is through mindful emotion awareness meditation. Listen to the audio recording on your Goodpath app to get an idea of what it feels like to be mindfully aware. 

Practice the meditation when your mood is close to neutral - neither positive nor negative.

Once you feel comfortable with it, you can use it when you experience an intense emotion. 

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The goals of the meditation are to:

  • Be present in the here and now

  • Learn to focus on your breath to quickly bring your attention to the present moment

  • Describe body sensations without judgment 

  • Understand that thoughts are not facts

  • Be aware that emotions, just like waves, naturally increase and decrease

Use the Mindful Emotion Awareness form to record your experience.

Some people find this exercise uncomfortable. It can be difficult to sit still and observe our emotions, even for a short time, if we’re used to doing something quickly to distract ourselves from them.

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Mindful Mood Induction

Mindful Mood Induction is the next part of practicing mindful emotion awareness. This means you’ll apply mindful attention when you’re experiencing intense emotions.

With this technique, you’ll choose a meaningful song that brings up emotions for you - i.e. you’ll induce emotion. Try a few songs that bring up different emotions. 

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Take some time to think about some memorable songs. What are some that bring up intense emotions?

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Here’s an example of mindful mood induction: you listen to a song that reminds you of a lost loved one. You feel sad…but you practice being nonjudgmental and staying present. 

You practice observing your experience in the “here and now. ”You think “Wow! This song still makes me cry.” You don’t go to the past (“I was happier then”) or the future (“Holidays will never be the same”). 

Now, it's your turn to try with one of your memorable songs. Use the Mindful Emotion Awareness form to record your experience, just like you did for the meditation.  ~~~~~

Anchoring in the Present

Anchoring in the Present is the next part of Mindful Emotion Awareness. After practicing the first two techniques (meditation and mood induction), you’ll use this skill when you experience emotional situations. 

First, you’ll choose a cue. Your cue is your way of bringing you back to the “here and now” during an emotional experience.

As in meditation, your breath is an excellent choice - that’s because it’s always with you. But, you can select any cue. For example, feeling your palms together, your feet on the floor, or your eyelids closed - anything that grounds you in the present.

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Three-point Check

The Three-point Check helps you to look at your response in a nonjudgemental way.

Is the emotion you're experiencing in line with what’s going on right now? Or, is it based on the past or what might occur in the future

If your response isn’t consistent with the present moment, the final step is to try to adjust it to be more consistent with right now.

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When you feel an intense emotion, anchor in the present.

  1. Use your cue.

  2. Do a 3-point check

  3. Is the emotion in line with what’s going on right now?

  4. Adjust your response to be more consistent with right now

This takes practice. With time, you’ll be able to stay present longer and notice more quickly if you’re not. ~~~~~

An Example

Imagine you’re in a work meeting. Your boss is presenting next year’s budget. Your teenage son is sick and stayed home from school. 

You start to worry about how he’s feeling, whether or not he’s eating, etc. 

While feeling more anxious, you’re able to use your cue and focus on your hands in your lap. You do a three-point check:

  • Your thoughts: “He might be really sick”

  • Your physical sensations: your heart is beating fast and you have belly pain

  • Your behavior: you reach for your phone to text your son

You then remind yourself that you’re in an important meeting and focus attention on your boss. Your son was okay when you left home. And, you can check on him right after the meeting.

You’re able to “coexist” with your strong emotions.

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Make Time For Homework

  • Practice the mindful meditation at least once a day for a week.

  • Practice mindful mood induction a few days over the upcoming week.

  • Practice anchoring in the present when intense emotions begin to arise - at least a few days over the upcoming week.

Record your experiences on the Mindful Emotion Awareness form located in your UP Therapy workbook.

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Time for a knowledge check. Which of the following are true? 

1. Mindfulness includes being nonjudgmental and present-focused.

2. It’s natural for most people to be mindful.

3. Nonjudgmental awareness means you judge your current emotional experiences based on your past ones.

4. A three-point check means you pay attention to what you’re thinking, feeling, and doing.

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Answers

  1. True. Non-judgment and present-focused are the two main parts of mindfulness.

  2. True. Mindfulness isn’t natural for most people. It takes a lot of practice.

  3. False. Nonjudgmental awareness means you accept your emotional experiences, instead of judging them as problems and pushing them away. 

  4. True. It is true that a three-point check means you pay attention to what you’re thinking, feeling, and doing.