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Do Your Emotions Drive Your Reactions?

If your emotions tend to drive your reactions, try this mindful tip. Picture this: You got the flu and you have to cancel all your plans for the day. You’re starting to feel anxious and guilty about not being productive, but rather than nosedive into a worry spiral, take a moment to ask yourself why you’re feeling this way. This enables you to take a pause, step back from the intense emotional or physical experience, and get more curious about what’s driving these complicated feelings, says licensed psychologist Jenny Wang, PhD. This practice is often referred to as observing ego, or becoming aware of the thoughts behind your actions or feelings. Over time, practicing this skill can make it easier to check yourself before you react to those uncomfortable thoughts or feelings in an unhelpful way, she adds. Try it: The next time you feel anxious, overwhelmed, or any other hard-to-deal-with emotion, imagine floating above your body and name what you see around you out loud. Then, notice what you feel, like tension in your shoulders or the texture of the rug beneath you. After naming a few sensations, ask yourself why you’re feeling whatever emotion this is, what’s driving this reaction, and how you can respond in a way that’s not ruled by your in-the-moment emotions.

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