Feeling Okay about Not Feeling Okay

"Whereas positive mood seems to promote creativity, flexibility, co-operation and reliance on mental shortcuts, negative moods trigger more attentive, careful thinking, paying greater attention to the external world…[and a] mildly negative mood may actually promote a more concrete, accommodative and ultimately more successful communication style."

~ Professor Joe Forgas, from “Feeling Grumpy is Good for You,” BBC News, November 3, 2009

Oscar the Grouch

Lidia Zylowska, M.D., a psychiatrist who works in the area of integrating mindfulness into ADHD treatment suggests the following steps when experiencing difficult or unpleasant emotions:

(R) Recognize the emotion by giving it a name using words like sadness, anger, hurt, embarrassment...Or perhaps there is a feeling of numbness or disconnection.  Or just a neutral feeling...Whatever you notice, with courage allow yourself to fully have the experience.

(A) Accept the reality of this feeling in the present moment. There is no need to criticize yourself or thinking something is wrong with you, simply noting, ‘oh, there is anger', ‘oh there is sadness'. As much as possible, welcoming the experience.

(I) Investigate this feeling a little more.  With a sense of beginner's mind or curiosity, drop your attention deeper into the body and notice any sensations present there. Perhaps there is some tensing up in the chest, feelings of clenching in the stomach or maybe a sinking feeling.  You may even notice some reaction to the difficult emotion or the thought itself? There may be feelings of anger or shame for even having this emotion. 
As you go through the steps of recognizing, accepting and investigating, you may notice that the emotion or the thought feels less personal, simply an emotion...simply a thought.

(N) Not identifying or not personalizing the feeling. Stepping back from the experience and seeing it for what it is, a set of reactions and sensations. As much as possible just witnessing them without getting caught up in them.

From “Mindfulness and ADHD,” by Elisha Goldstein, Mental Help Net, October 23, 2009

[Thanks Angela!]