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Dealing with Strong Emotions

According to Perma Chodron, a Buddhist teacher, we can teach ourselves not to be carried away by our impulses or triggers. The following exercise can be helpful.

  1. Recognise the moment when you react to a trigger.

Try to be aware of the moments when you follow an emotional impulse. Pema Chodron calls it ‘snagging on a hook’ – when someone cuts you off on the road, for example, and your emotion snags you so you shout at the driver and feel angry for the rest of your journey.

2. Interrupt yourself

 Instead of getting triggered, consciously breathe in three times and try to stay close to the energy of your emotion. ‘Experience it completely’, Chodron writes. Taste it, feel it, smell it.

Always be curious about this energy.

How does it feel in your body? What thoughts does it create?’ It may feel strange at first, and maybe you’ll manage only for a moment to relax and stay with that restless energy. But keep practicing and you’ll improve.

3. Relax and move on

Don’t make the second step longer than you can manage.

End the exercise and keep doing what you were doing. Chodron advises to start practicing first with the small irritations of daily life, like traffic situations, at work, or with small parenting issue.

Every day has plenty of exercise material to offer!

Start small, then you will eventually learn to keep your balance during a bigger crisis too.