Mindfulness of Current Emotions
by Dr. Marsha Linehan, 2012

There’s a skill that’s super important that you may be ignoring. And that’s mindfulness of current emotions. Now you may be thinking, “Why would I ever do that? Being mindful of my emotions makes them worse because they’re so painful.”

Well that’s a mistake. Why? Because trying to ignore, suppress, or get rid of emotions almost always makes them worse. Now that doesn’t mean sometimes you can’t distract – distracting can sometimes be very good. In fact, we have a whole skill called distraction.

But most of the time, paying attention to emotions is very important. Because you can’t suppress them and you can’t get rid of them. Mindfulness of current emotions is paying attention to the very emotion that you have. It’s allowing it to be, letting it be what it is.

But it’s also reminding yourself that you’re not your emotion – don’t forget to do that. And it’s reminding yourself that you can tolerate your emotions. That’s important. So why pay attention to emotions? What good is it for you? One of the most important things to recognize is that if you’re going to have negative emotions in life, which all of us are going to have, the most important thing is to learn how to not overreact to your own emotions. Learn how to be able to experience them without having to do something, particularly something destructive. And practicing mindfulness of current emotions allows you to learn to just see them for what they are.

Just observe them. A feeling is rising within me. The feeling is going down. A feeling is rising within me. The feeling is going down. Because remember, don’t forget: you’ve never had even one single emotion in your entire life that didn’t leave, that didn’t end. Mindfulness of current emotions is paying attention to your current emotions, your current feelings, and the sensations of your body. But it’s paying attention in a way that radically accepts that the emotion is there. The emotion just is what it is.

Excerpt from a video of Dr. Marsha Linehan in the soon-to-be-released DBT Skills App
All materials of DBT Skills App are ?2012
Marsha M. Linehan, Ph.D., ABPP and published by Behavioral Tech Research, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.