Whether it’s sadness, fear, shame, guilt or anger, sometimes when these are here, all we want to do is be somewhere else and it seems like it’s going to last forever. Here’s one practice to consider in regaining control of your mind during the difficult moments in life.

Try this as an experiment:

When an uncomfortable emotions arises, ask yourself the honest question, “How long is this going to last?” See it as a moment of investigation, a chance to really get to know how you operate.

No longer are you caught in the stress cycle of thoughts, emotions and sensations compounding on one another creating a snowball reaction (that actually makes it all last that much longer), but instead you have stepped outside of it and become curious about it.

Your mind needs the understanding and experience of how emotions or moods operate in order to not get so stressed and afraid of them when they arise.

You can’t control the initial snap judgment that leads to that emotional reaction, but you can control how you’re going to understand and relate to the feeling or mood once it’s here. Is it going to be with the attitude of, “oh I hate this, this is going to last forever,” or “Let’s see how long this lasts.”

One is a mindless approach; the other is a more mindful approach.

But without automatically judging the mindfulness approach as better, why not see for yourself and let your experience be your teacher?

Try this out and let us know what you find. How long does it last? What shape does it take in your body and what happens to it over time? Does the sensation in the body change or stay the same? Does it move somewhere else? Does a color come to mind and does that shift or stay the same?

Allow this to be an opportunity to, as Derek Walcott says in him poem Love after Love “reintroduce the stranger who was yourself.”

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us to benefit from.

 


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    Last reviewed: 14 Nov 2011

APA Reference
Goldstein, E. (2011). Question: How Long Do Negative Emotions Last?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 21, 2014, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/mindfulness/2011/11/question-how-long-do-negative-emotions-last/

 

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Books and CDs by Dr. Elisha Goldstein:
Mindfulness Meditations for the Anxious Traveler: Quick Exercises to Calm Your Mind

The Now Effect: How This Moment Can Change The Rest of Your Life
A Mindfulness-Based
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