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Inner Semaphore

Has it happened to you that you did something overwhelmed by the emotions and later, when the emotions lessened, you felt surprised, ashamed, disappointed, anxious: “Why did I do it? What will be now?”  

This is a simple technique that many find very handy when dealing with strong emotions. It prevents you from overreacting and taking reckless steps that you might regret later.

1. STOP

In my opinion, it’s the most important step in this technique that helps interrupt the train of thoughts, that cause a bunch of emotions and you get entrenched and become a hostage of these thoughts, emotions, and consequent actions.

STOP your thoughts. STOP doing whatever you’re doing. It’s impossible to stop emotions, though. Suppressing them is even worse. But emotions don’t last long unless they’re supported by thoughts. So if you stop thinking thoughts that cause those emotional reactions, they quickly subside.

2. ANALYZE

Explore, discover, investigate. Whatever word feels better to you. The aim is to focus your attention on your thoughts, emotions and behavior. Ask yourself:

What am I thinking? Which story am I telling myself now? Is it valid?

What am I feeling about this story?

What am I doing or about to do?

BTW this process will already lessen the intensity of the emotions and you’re less likely to recklessly act. Important not to ruminate on the situation, producing more thoughts and emotions about the situation causing distress. Turn on curiosity and self-compassion: I’m curious what’s going on in me.

For example, in a situation where my significant other mockingly criticized me, I ask myself: “What am I feeling right now?” – “I’m feeling surprise, anger, and resentment.”

N.B. If you want a list of emotions (there’re more than 150 of them), please send me an email and I will send you a PDF file will a comprehensive list of emotions.

3. DESIRED OUTCOME

Ask yourself: Which outcome do I want to get in this situation?

What do I want to feel and think?

What will I do to achieve this?

The key to the successful 3rd step is to consider this situation as a valuable experience that allows you to learn even more about life, yourself, others.

And then act out according to the desired outcome. It can be taking the time out, or immediately acting on it, now with the awareness of what’s happening inside of you and what you really want to achieve in these circumstances.

One last word. Don’t get discouraged if this technique doesn’t work from the first attempt. It took us a while to learn to use a fork and a knife when we eat. Besides while we manage them well now, we still use a spoon in some cases. But now we have the freedom to choose.

Wishing you happiness,

Natalie

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