Mini-idea of the Week: How to ‘STOP’ the habitual thinking mind

Your emotions are the slaves to your thoughts, and you are the slave to your emotions”. Elizabeth Gilbert

When someone insults you or does something you find offensive do you suddenly feel a rush of anger?

Do you find yourself reliving the situation again and again through your thinking?

  • “How could he do that?”
  • “I thought he was my friend?”
  • “I’m never going to speak to them again!”
  • “I’ll show them”.

Sound similar?

Then the rational mind might join the internal conversation.

  • “Oh, just forget it!”
  • “He’s trying his best”.
  • “Don’t make it personal”.

There’s this feeling of generosity.  A grand gesture of understanding.

But here’s the reality.

You find you can’t sustain that sense of the magnanimity. Before you know it its back to the blame game:

  • “How could he?”
  • I’ll never forgive him!

There is this ongoing struggle raging inside our minds.

I have heard all the good advice about letting go.  But the hurt, the pain of disappointment, the sense of betrayal is still there.

So what can we do in those moments?

When I find myself in these situations I take the time to mindfully STOP and contemplate these things. When I do an amazing thing happens.

The thinking process stops. I no longer create thoughts from anger or try to be magnanimous.

There will always be some residual energy. I might feel some tension within my body. However, by staying with this energy of anger as an observer, I actually witness its cessation. The energy I label as ‘anger’ will cease.

So what is left when it has gone?

Peacefulness!

All conditions arise and cease. Change is inevitable.

This is a reality to be realised in life. It isn’t some poetic view of life.

So the next time someone pushes your buttons and triggers a reaction try this quick powerful mindfulness practice called “STOP”.  

It helps you to be focused, and at your emotional best when you need to determine the very best action to take in the moment.

S = Stop

Stop what you are doing: Press the pause button on your thoughts and actions.

T = Take a deep breath

Take a few deep breaths and bring yourself fully into the present moment.

O = Observe

Observe your experience just as it is—including thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Reflect about what is on your mind. Observe what’s happening:

  • Body: Become aware of your physical sensations in the body  
  • Emotions: Become aware of your feelings
  • Mind: Become aware of your thinking. What is the story you’re telling yourself?

P = Proceed

 Proceed with whatever you were doing incorporating what you just learned.

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