Table of contents:

Attention: Feelings! - Self-development
Attention: Feelings! - Self-development

Video: Attention: Feelings! - Self-development

Video: Attention: Feelings! - Self-development
Video: How craving attention makes you less creative | Joseph Gordon-Levitt 2023, March

In modern society, thoughts are valued more than feelings. It is not customary to talk about emotions, it is not customary to teach them. But at the same time, the desire to control them remains. How to become the master of your feelings and can you stop experiencing unwanted emotions?

Do not Cry

Neither school nor the family, as a rule, is taught to discuss feelings and think about them. It is not often that you find a parent who tells his child what anger is, how it differs from irritation and how to express it in a form that is safe for others. Strong emotions are even prohibited: "It is indecent to cry in front of strangers!" Or: "If you shout like that, I'll leave you here alone!" Such phrases can be heard everywhere.

As a result, children grow up with a feeling of misunderstanding or even a threat from their own feelings, and having matured, they do not have the skill of recognizing and naming emotions in words.

The problem is aggravated by the fact that humans are much more complex than animals. Dogs, horses, higher primates and many other representatives of the fauna also experience emotions, but only in relation to events and objects of the external environment.

We have the ability to react emotionally to the content of our own consciousness. For us, many memories, fantasies, thoughts are the same vivid reason for experiencing, like the people around us, things and situations.

In order to get the most out of yourself, a higher awareness is needed. More attention, vigilance, wakefulness is needed

Brian Tracy

When some of these reactions are repeated more often than others, they become habitual, automated, and triggered even without our knowledge. Therefore, people often find themselves in an unconscious vicious circle: out of habit they think about the bad, they begin to feel bad about it, and it only makes them worse.

The process of uncontrolled immersion in negative thoughts is scientifically called rumination. The English word rumination in its first meaning is translated as "chewing", so that metaphorically one can imagine rumination as persistent and automatic chewing of thoughts.

Rumination, automatic thoughts, the inability to distinguish one's own emotions from the facts of reality - these mechanisms underlie many psychological problems, including depression and anxiety disorder. Maybe it would be easier to live without emotions at all? Or are they still needed for something?

Emotional survival

Several structures in the brain are responsible for processing emotions, which combine to form the limbic system - sometimes referred to as the "emotional brain." Interestingly, evolutionarily, the limbic system was formed to recognize smell and performed a protective function. Animals need a sense of smell for survival: by smell, you can understand whether a predator is sneaking up on the trail, whether the found plant is edible, whether there is a creature of the opposite sex nearby.


Now, when the sense of smell has ceased to play such an essential role in a person's life, the limbic system has reorganized to work with emotions, but the function remains the same: emotionally assessing environmental stimuli, we understand how to respond to them. We know that it is better to stay away from things and people that cause fear or irritation. Conversely, if something causes us joy and delight, we will strive for it more and more.


Increased anxiety is the tendency of an individual to experience intense experience in a situation that objectively does not require such a reaction

A certain level of anxiety is a natural and obligatory feature of an individual's vigorous activity. This is the so-called beneficial anxiety. However, an increased level of anxiety is a subjective manifestation of an individual's dysfunction. Such people are always serious and concerned. They get unnecessarily tired, but still cannot fall asleep, since all kinds of obsessive thoughts interfere with them. Their communication over time becomes selective, emotionally uneven.

In Russia, the percentage of people who can be defined as highly anxious is very high. According to world statistics, the “norm of anxiety” is 15%, in our country it is 60–75%.

This is the protective role of emotions, which is directly related to motivation. An emotionally colored state of the body arises in response to any need and directs our behavior. The process of justification and decision making is based on this. If you imagine a perfectly healthy person who has full contact with his feelings, then in a situation of choice, he will see the only correct decision, without worrying about many alternatives. For such a person, feelings will tell you exactly which behavior will bring the most emotional satisfaction both right now and in the long term.

You can't run away from feelings

The most popular means of emotional self-regulation are defense mechanisms, especially these two:

  • repression - suppression and elimination of unpleasant and painful experiences from consciousness, most often by forgetting or ignoring;
  • avoidance - avoiding situations, people and other sources of unwanted emotions.

Emotions are a physiological process, so it is impossible to get rid of them, even if someone strongly wanted it. In response to each situation in the body, an emotional reaction arises, which affects the level of nervous excitement, the production of hormones, and the activation of internal organs.


If an emotion is suppressed or ignored, its physiological companions still remain and affect our well-being and behavior, simply without our consent. From this internal conflict, an uncontrolled reaction of emotions is born when they are thrown out at the most inopportune moment, and the overcontrol of one's own behavior, and overprotection of others.

Sometimes it even comes down to addictions and psychosomatic illnesses. But a more constructive way of managing strong feelings is also possible.

Careful handling

Our complex mental structure is not only a source of problems, but also a way to solve them. The main tool for regulating emotions is attention, which we all naturally possess. Due to the physiological structure of the brain, we are able, of our own free will, to retain in our imagination a selected memory or a specific thought. It is on this mechanism that psychological practices of mindfulness are built - a conscious, non-judgmental concentration of attention on the present moment.

More and more psychotherapeutic approaches are beginning to use mindfulness exercises and techniques, which can be described as the practice of concentration - outside of the religious and esoteric context often attributed to meditation. The word mindfulness distinguishes the psychotherapeutic term from Buddhist and other traditional concepts.

The state that describes mindfulness includes well-defined criteria that serve to effectively and painlessly regulate emotions:

  • 1. Non-value: emotions, thoughts and physical sensations are not divided into good and bad, right and wrong, therefore it is possible to explore any content of consciousness in its original form.
  • 2. Patience: Mindfulness skills do not develop overnight, they require regular practice, so it is important to tune in advance to the likelihood that changes will not start immediately.
  • 3. “The mind of a beginner”: sincere curiosity about what is happening and the willingness to learn as much as possible about yourself make it possible to come into direct contact with your experiences and enjoy the very process of studying yourself.
  • 4. Trust: Since awareness is an exclusively subjective experience, it is especially important to trust your body and life experience in mastering it.
  • 5. Self-friendliness: it is impossible to know yourself and open up to everything that happens inside without making friends with yourself and without showing sympathy for the difficulties experienced to date.
  • 6. Non-reactive observer position: to get rid of automatic thoughts and habitual reactions, it is important to learn to “step back” from your emotions and thoughts, look at them from the outside and pause the decision-making process.
  • 7. Acceptance: contact with your experiences, no matter how painful they may be, trains tolerance for them, the ability to withstand them without the desire to avoid and displace them. Mindfulness is like a trained muscle that helps you handle and explore stress without bending under its weight.
  • 8. Letting go: tuning in to the wave of current emotions, thoughts and physical sensations, we understand more clearly that they all constitute a multifaceted picture of the inner world, a picture of our personality, but at the same time they are not obliged to determine our actions and decisions.

How mindfulness works

Mindfulness practices are based on well-defined mechanisms.

  • 1. This state allows you to turn off the internal "autopilot" mode and see the environment phenomena as they are. When we stop dividing everything into good and bad, pleasant and unpleasant, out of habit, our emotional background becomes more balanced. So we stop painfully attached to the positive and run away from the negative.
  • 2. Training in the observer position has an important consequence: a person practicing mindfulness begins to understand the difference between who he is and what he is experiencing at the moment. Being angry or sad at the moment doesn't make you angry or depressed. This is only a transient state that can be regulated by the conscious direction of attention.
  • 3. Mindfulness practices give us time to examine our experiences under a microscope before choosing a course of action. Every moment of life is an opportunity for choice and decision making. If we make this choice in accordance with our sincere feelings and values, we get the opportunity to realize our true nature and become the best versions of ourselves.

How to learn emotional awareness

Many free lectures, self-practice audio recordings, articles and books on mindfulness are now available in the public domain. Psychologists, neuroscientists and philosophers are engaged in this area. Each of us can choose any of the many paths leading to a state of mindfulness. But this path begins with the ability to regularly freeze even for a moment during the day and listen to what is happening inside right now. The main factor for any personal change, including mastering the practices of mindfulness, is the reinforcement of new habits with new pleasant emotions. Only the experience that we experience as brightly positive can be included in our idea of ourselves, in new chains of behavior.

Be generous and boldly reward yourself for each new experience of non-judgmental perception of your feelings

And most importantly, look for like-minded people with whom you can share the joy of victories on the path of self-discovery.

How to get out of the vicious circle of rumination:

1. Develop an inner observer position: pause the stream of consciousness several times a day and notice what you are thinking about right now, especially in emotionally intense situations.

2. Learn to accept any feelings and thoughts that arise: study yourself from the position of a beginner or a child who is genuinely interested in everything that happens inside and outside. In this process, it is important to abstract from any prohibitions and dogmas that make you think of unpleasant emotions as disadvantages or threats.

3. Keep a log of automatic thoughts and emotions: write down what happened, what thoughts and feelings arose in response to it, and how you ultimately behaved. Review your notes from time to time to keep track of your progress.

4. In those moments when negative emotions take over you, by an effort of will, be distracted by activities that require concentration (crosswords, knitting, counting in and out - whatever), or by pleasant memories. Even two minutes of distraction is enough to reduce the degree of inner heat and choose a more sober strategy of behavior.

5. Find ways to express your emotions: in words in communication with other people or in writing in your own diary, drawings, sculpting, singing, movement - any channels and means are suitable for relieving inner emotional stress.

Expert opinion

Not for all

Evgeny VOLKOV, psychologist, sociologist, Ph. D. n
Evgeny VOLKOV, psychologist, sociologist, Ph. D. n

I did not immerse myself in the practice and theory of mindfulness, but this article seems to me as informative and useful as many similar texts written before on the same or related topics.

Everything is great in such educational and practical-instructional recommendations, except for one, but important and decisive aspect: they are written for the nanopercentage of the population, and not for the vast majority. All recommendations are in fact addressed to rational-minded individuals who are also capable of behavioral, cognitive and emotional self-control. Although it is assumed that all of this can be learned in the process of mastering awareness.

The greatest problem of all concepts and practices of psychological self-improvement is that they do not create effective technologies for a step-by-step, realistically realizable transition to independent practices of self-development for the majority of people who are unprepared in many respects. I wonder how aware of this gap are teachers of mindfulness?

Evgeny VOLKOV,

psychologist, sociologist, Ph. D. n.

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