How to Stop Destroying Your Life When You're in an Emotional Crisis

This blog post focuses on how I have been able to keep myself from completely self-sabotaging during times of emotional crisis.  I didn't have that ability before.  If you don't have it now, it's something you can work on and develop, just like I did.

Here is what I've learned so far:


First things first: STOP.  


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Stop right in your tracks.  When you begin to feel the physical and emotional symptoms that cue to you that you are either about to fly off of the handle or feel like you are going to fall apart, it's time for emergency intervention.  

If you feel like you may hurt yourself or someone else, seek psychiatric attention immediately.  

If you are safe as far as not intending to do either of these things, it's time to put 

TIME 
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and
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SPACE

between the incident that has triggered you and taking any type of action.

As emotionally sensitive individuals, many of us experience a heightened level of distress and our nervous systems respond so quickly to a perceived threat that this may seem impossible.

Allow yourself to mindfully notice the feelings, thoughts, and sensations that are coming up in your moment of distress.   This happened to me today.  I quickly got to a quiet place and began practicing a mindfulness activity to SLOW THINGS DOWN.

Today, I received an email about a meeting that will be happening next week.  I went into full catastrophe mode, began to panic, got angry, and went into distorted thinking. I felt a rush of both physical and mental overwhelm. I knew that if I didn't slow it down, I would be more likely to act in an impulsive way that I would regret...and it would be too late.

I had just left DBT group, so I went back upstairs and asked the receptionist if she could check if my individual therapist or the group therapist were still there. She said they'd both left for the day.  I froze. I didn't know what to say next. I felt panicked and angry at the same time. I bursted into tears.
 
"Are you okay?" the receptionist asked. "NO!" I said as I ran for the elevator. As I got back downstairs, I realized that my emotional state was very heightened. 

I also realized that I've come too far and worked too hard to sabotage my life over an upset, no matter how stressful, so I began to pull it together, as awful as I felt and as difficult as it was.  I can tell you -- if I was able to do so with how intense I felt, there is hope for you, too.

I found comfort in reminding myself "Just this moment, just this breath."

This exercise is particularly helpful in these types of situations.  You watch your breath. Slow it down and notice each inhalation and exhalation, then say, aloud, "This too shall pass. Just this moment. Just this breath."

When we realize that we must only cope with and in the present moment, things can get less overwhelming very quickly.

Eckhart Tolle, in his book "A New Earth," describes how staying in the present moment can spare us so much unnecessary suffering:

"All that you ever have to deal with, cope with, in real life -- as opposed to imaginary mind projections -- is this moment.  Ask yourself what 'problem' you have right now, not next year, tomorrow, or five minutes from now.  What is wrong with this moment?  You can always cope with the Now, but you can never cope with the future -- nor do you have to.  The answer, the strength, the right action or resource will be there when you need it, not before, not after."

I highly recommend keeping this quote on you and pulling it out the next time you are flooded with intense emotions and things feel like they are spinning out of control.

I have also found the following books by Eckhart Tolle very helpful. Reading them and carrying them around can be a source of comfort and lots of helpful reminders to be mindful:

A New Earth


The Power of Now




Another important part of not self-sabotaging is remembering your long term goals.  It's hard to reason with emotional mind, but try to tap into Wise Mind - the logical part that sees beyond the problem and that anticipates how your reaction will impact you - not just now, but in terms of your long term goals.

Also, think about how your potential actions fit in with your values - of the type of person you are or that you want to me.

I considered these questions. 
All of these steps have helped me to stop destroying my life when I'm in an emotional crisis.

What works for you?

What skills have you applied to help you keep it together in times of great distress?


Thanks for reading.
More Soon.

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