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Three Steps to Work With Difficult Emotions

Melli O'Brien



Melli O'Brien



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Three Steps to Work With Difficult Emotions

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Hi, and welcome to your Daily Mindfulness.

Today, I'm going to talk about

a three-step process to help you

work with difficult emotions.

So when we experience painful emotions,

often our kind of knee-jerk response is to

struggle with those emotions in some way.

Or sometimes we just try to ignore them.

But we can learn to regulate our

emotions more skillfully and also

listen to what they may have to teach

or show us in these three simple steps.

So when you first feel any kind

of difficult emotion, the first

thing you want to do is just pause

and take one mindful breath in

and out just to ground yourself.

And then you can use these three

steps where you're basically

going to finish three sentences.

The first one is, I feel.

The second one is, I need.

And the third one is, I will.


I feel, I need, I will.

So I'll just walk you through this.

I feel is where you name the

emotion that you're feeling.

So here you would say to

yourself mentally, I feel

sadness, you know, for instance.

I need is here you explore what the

potential unmet need is in that moment.

So perhaps you feel sadness because

you've been in lockdown and you're

missing your friends and family.

So you would say to yourself in

this first, in this step, I need

some more connection, maybe.

Or maybe you're feeling regret because

you had an argument with somebody and

you said something you wish you hadn't.

So in this step you might say to

yourself, I need to make amends.

Or maybe you feel anger because

your boss gave you extra work to

do, and you're already overloaded.

So in this step you might have

said to yourself, something like,

I need to put better boundaries in

place, so I don't get burnt out.

Now step three, I will, is an

action step that you're going to

take towards getting that need met.

So for instance, in the case of being

sad and missing your family and friends,

so you might say to yourself, I will

make a zoom call to them tonight.

In the case of the regret and the need to

make amends, you might say to yourself,

I will go to this person and apologize.

In the case of the anger, you know,

feeling anger because your boss

is giving you too much workload.

I need to put better boundaries

in place so I don't get burnt out.

Then this last step would be, I

will say no to my boss the next

time he asks me to do more work

than I can realistically handle.

I'll explain why I don't

wish to work overtime.


So that's the invitation to

give this practice a try today

and see how it goes for you.

The next time you feel a difficult

emotion, practice taking one

slow, mindful breath, and then

using, I feel, I need, I will.

When we listen to and respond to our

emotions like this, they can really

become our teachers and guides.

We can use them to help us get clear on

how to meet our own needs in ways that

help us stay happy, healthy, and strong.

As always, thank you for your practice

and your presence here with us.

And let's now settle in

for today's meditation.

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