Working with many different people here at the Meehl Foundation, from DBT suffers to addicts, BPD to ADD and ADHD clients, we often see troublesome effects of these powerful conditions on our patients in their everyday life.
While yes, you may have a condition, we strongly believe that anyone can practice methods to ease emotional distress. It may sound hard to see that you can choose Joy over your emotional distress right now, but as our own experience tells us, powerful transformation can occur for ANYONE by using simple and easy to apply mindfulness techniques. No one is immune to this type of transformation!
In the newly released book “Joyful Transformation” author Debra Meehl and Kristin Smith dive into 22 keys life-changing techniques to remove your emotional distress that ultimately help you reclaim your authenticity, key #4 talks of mindfulness and awareness practices which we believe is incredibly powerful in helping you choose your joy over distress!
Let’s dig into what mindfulness really is and how to apply it
Mindfulness is the key ingredient in calming the mind. It’s about halting a situation you’re finding difficult or emotionally distressing, and focusing your attention, thoughts, body, senses, and spirit in that single moment. Casting aside anything and everything else – you’re able to truly center your mind on the task, issue, or difficulty at hand.
For instance, when we experience something emotionally distressing, it’s typically because we’re in fear of something. However, instead of focusing on that emotion and embracing it just as it is, we tend to shift our focus on everything BUT that fact that’s we’re scared of something. This is how situations and feelings can get out of control.
For instance, your spouse didn’t compliment you on your new haircut. Instinctively you get upset that he’s not noticing you, which triggers a feeling of insecurity, which can be scary – your thoughts shift to thinking; “maybe he’s not in love with me anymore!” While it never feels great when someone doesn’t notice a change we’ve made, it’s important to pause and practice mindfulness so your thoughts don’t run the show.
For instance, maybe your spouse had a hard day at work and his mind is concentrating on something important that he needs to get done the next day, or maybe he had a really hard day and he’s just tiered? Focus your attention to his face, the lines surrounding his eye, his rough hands, his dirty cloths… look him over and pay attention to the fact that he might just be existing in this moment with his own thoughts, and that maybe your thought that he’s not in love with you anymore, isn’t true. Sometimes what we perceive versus what’s really happening doesn’t align, this is where we need to dial in.
Practicing how to be mindful in all you do is a great way to shift your perspective and radically improve the quality of your daily life. I’ll give you a few more examples.
Limiting Outside Stressors
Have you ever watched the news or read a sad story online, and all of a sudden your entire mood shifts to anger, sadness, or even a feeling of the world being unjust? As human being’s we’re emotional. We process things we see and hear and usually take some sort of ownership of it, this is a natural experience, but if we’re struggling to face our own difficulties, it’s a good idea to be mindful of what you expose yourself to.
If the news makes you sad, depressed, or angry, don’t watch it. If you tend to get frustrated on social media, limit your exposure and find something else to do that will amplify your joy. Being aware and responsible of what you expose to your body, mind, and spirit to is how you can eliminate unnecessary stress. The fact is, you can’t fix everything you see on the news, you can’t change how someone behaves on social media…but you can focus on yourself. The world changes when we focus on our own behaviors, reactions, and decisions!
When we are mindful of our own exposure, it allows us to shift into joy – if we’re constantly exposing ourselves to negativity, it clouds our mind to a point where we simply feel overwhelmed by emotion. This can cause some really unnecessary emotional distress that can make everyday life harder than it has to be.
Who you expose yourself to matters…
Another example is WHO you expose yourself to. For instance, maybe you have a friend or family member who tends to make you feel stressed, upset, depressed, or even worn out after interacting with them, but you feel some sort of loyalty to them – that you must be there for them because they NEED you!
It’s great to be there for people when they are having difficulties, but if there’s someone in your life who is in constant turmoil and needs your attention often, this is a situation you need to be highly aware of. Life can deplete our resiliency – our own past difficulties, traumas, and daily life can take a major toll on us as it is – you simply can’t expose yourself to this kind of draining relationship if you wish to experience joy in your own life. You can be there, but don’t make a habit out of exposing yourself to constant negativity – it’s going to put you in a state of worry, anxiety, and stress!
Cutting someone out of your life completely isn’t always possible – especially if it’s family or someone you truly care for, but setting healthy boundaries is very possible, and it should be a priority!
How do you set boundaries without hurting someone’s feelings? Good question. The fact is you may not be able to set a boundary “pain free”. Some folks may react differently to your request, that’s just life, and it’s ok. The point is to simply state how you feel in a non-aggressive way and without unnecessary finger pointing, and set a firm boundary. It’s also important that it’s quick and to the point.
If you want a real life example, here’s what I had to tell my mom. I won’t get into why I had to do this, but it aligns with this post a LOT.
“Hey mom, listen, I really love you, but when I get off the phone with you I notice I don’t feel good, it takes me a few days to recover and get my positivity back, I would prefer that when we talk we focus on positive things, and that you keep me out of family issues.”
My mom’s reaction was reasonable, she got a bit upset and I could tell her feelings were a little hurt, but ultimately that feeling passed. She had a few slip ups, and when she did I just gently reminded her of the boundary I set. This took some practice, but we now have a healthy relationship. I could not fix my mom, but I focused my attention on the problem, removed my irritation with her, and simply resolved it by creating a simple solution that works for me.
You see, when you’re mindful, you can significantly reduce unnecessary emotional distress which makes room for your mind and spirit to move into joy!
If you’d like to learn more about how you can step into your Joy, grab your free copy of “Joyful Transformation” this book gives you powerful tools to help you live a happy life where Joy comes in abundance!
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