One of the interwoven themes in the book, Getting To Happy: Learning to Read Emotional Messages, is the recommendation to STOP in your tracks the moment you recognize uncomfortable emotions.
Powerful emotions overwhelm us at the moment. When we do not understand their message, when we fight against an emotion, the emotion gets louder, stronger, more intense. We can work ourselves up into a tantrum. Tantrums affect the well-being of ourselves and those who suffer our outburst.
There is power in stopping. Getting To Happy recommends that we STOP, LOOK, and FIND SOMETHING THAT FEELS BETTER. Why does this work so well?
1. STOPPING. The brain can think of only one thought at a time. If you stop the thought of annoyance, you can replace the thought with something that feels better. Feeling good always brings about better outcomes!
2. STOPPING allows time for a new thought. Think of the brain as a computer. We can exit one window and enter another; we can open an additional app to help us with the task at hand.
3. STOPPING gives us a moment to reset our brain, if needed. Restarting a computer reorganizes data back to a workable playing field. When we stop in our tracks, we take ourselves back to first gear. Sometimes our ignored emotions are unconsciously embraced and become so loud that we need to put our gear in neutral.
4. The louder the emotion, the farther you are away from your goals. Achieving your personal goals feels good. You can think uncomfortable feelings of frustrations, jealousy, loss of control of as STOP SIGNS. Stay loyal to these emotions and watch them turn into a storm. But you can learn to read the intensity of a negative emotion as a navigational sign. These signs show how far away you are from your goals. Change your direction toward something that feels happier and the uncomfortable feeling will subside. Every time!
There is another trick that will help the STOPPING process. This is the 5-Minute STOP Rule.
For 5 minutes you do not move forward within the negative feeling. Put the thought triggered and now sustaining the negative emotion on-hold. Tell it to wait for 5 minutes until you can decide what to do. Tell your brain to wait while you load data. In the meantime, search for more pleasant ways to think about the situation. If this search brings more unpleasant emotions, STOP. Put yourself in time out. No thinking. No talking. Quiet.
Tell yourself: In five minutes I will know how to proceed in a way that allows me to feel happier. I always can come up with a new solution if I am quiet for five minutes. I am stopped.
If you find it hard to sit still here are some additional tricks:
- Read a book.
- Play an instrument.
- Catch up on a favorite episode.
- Look at your photos.
- Walk around your yard or your neighborhood.
- Wash your car.
- Wash your face.
- Call and cheer up a friend or family member.
- Change the furniture in your living room.
- Look in the mirror and renew your friendship!,
- Read Getting To Happy: Learning to Read Emotional Messages
“Stop the words now. Open the window in the center of your chest, and let the spirits fly in and out.” ― Rumi, The Essential Rumi
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