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  • Jeff Brenneman

Getting some control of thoughts and emotions

My thoughts are owning me right now. I’m worried, and that has caused me to feel anxious. Actually, I’m not sure exactly what order this has happened in. I don’t actually know if the thoughts are driving things or if I’ve had an emotional reaction before the thoughts and maybe that’s what started it.

Maybe you get wrapped up in trying to figure out why something happened, or what exactly happened. Maybe you feel a ‘need’ to know what is going on.

It may be less important to figure it out and more important to deal with the current moment. For me, the ‘why’ has been an important thing. I like to figure things out.

I like to have answers.



And, that has led to me experiencing more pain than I need to often. Sometimes, I cannot figure out what is going on inside me without the help of someone else. In those times, I’ve been taught, and have found from experience, that the more important thing to do is to get back into the moment. Become more mindful of what is going on right now, rather than what might or might not happen at another part of the day or another time in the future.

I’ve been having lots of thoughts about what will happen in 4 of my sessions today. I wrote 2 first, then 3, then realized that I’ve had worried thoughts about 4 out of the 6 sessions today. I guess my awareness is expanding as I pay attention right now.

Ok, so I’m catastrophizing. If you do not know what that means, here you go. I’m thinking about all the ways that the situation could go wrong, could go in ways I don’t want. I’ve thought about what might happen after these sessions, how clients could be calling me lots for coaching or how I may do something that is a mistake in session and how that could come back to bite me. I’ll not belabor the point. I think you get it. My brain is taking off without me.


In my experience, it seems this is almost universal. Almost everyone I’ve met has this worry thing that goes on for them at some level.

Some of us elevate it to an olympic level event on a regular basis. And then the thoughts and emotions play together and can take over yours or my entire life. If you experience emotions intensely, then this could be a bigger deal than if you experience emotions less intensely.


So, what am I going to do about this worry thing? I’m throwing myself into writing this. I am going to do some grounding mindfulness. Sitting in my chair, I stomped once with each foot and then paid attention to the sensations that produced. I noticed being solid on the floor. I noticed the chair holding me up, supporting me. I started checking in with other sensations in my body, just noticing. The tightness in my upper back seemed to change and soften as I paid attention to it. The coolness in my right foot. Simply paying attention to right now. If the worry produces a more intense reaction, raise the level of intensity of the skill. If my level of anxiety were higher I might stand up and jump instead of sitting. I might walk outside where it is hot and pay attention to those more intense sensations to get me back in the moment.


Now that the anxiety and worry have calmed down, I’m going to problem-solve. Are there things I need to do to be prepared for these upcoming sessions? Yes, there are. So, I’m going to do those things.


So, I took a break and did those things.

Hope this was helpful, and if not, that you come back again and see if the next thing will be.

If you are interested in some brief teachings on using some skills (not a replacement for comprehensive DBT) check out www.lifeworkstl.com/courses and click on the skills videos link.

#dbt #dbtskills #mindfulness #emotionregulation #dysregulated

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