Day Seventeen

DAY 17: Dr Elise Bialylew interviews David Treleaven


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Mind Life Project Bonus Content:

Download your Transcript here.


Video Objectives

In this video you’ll learn:

  • What is attachment and why is it so important 
  • The key ingredients to a fulfilling, long term relationship
  • The classic dialogue between couples in distress and how to create a more thriving relationship
  • How  childhood relationships influence your adult relationships and how to grow from childhood stress and trauma
About David Treleaven

Soften, soothe and allow - 16 minutes

Guest meditation by Kristin Neff

*click play to listen to the meditation

Kristin Neff, Ph.D. is widely recognized as one of the world’s leading experts on self-compassion, being the first one to operationally define and measure the construct over a decade ago. In addition to her pioneering research into self-compassion, she has developed an eight-week program to teach self-compassion skills in daily life, co-created with her colleague Dr. Chris Germer, called Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC). Her book, Self-Compassion, was published by William Morrow in April, 2011.

Emotional First Aid Practice

‘To live wisely is to find composure in it all.’ 

Jack Kornfield

In daily life, when you’re emotionally triggered and your prefrontal cortex is hijacked by your amygdala, whether you’re feeling anger, fear or agitation, you need a simple reminder to help you work with the emotion mindfully. Try out the mindful ABC of Emotional First Aid that I created, inspired by my medical training and the ABC's of physical resuscitation.

A: Acknowledge

Acknowledge that the emotion is present.

We can label the emotion as a way of clearly acknowledging that it is present.

When we get emotionally triggered, it’s very easy to get completely consumed by the emotion. We very quickly lose our capacity for observation and curiosity. This step invites us to pause in the midst of an overwhelming emotion and label it, either out loud or by simply noting it silently to ourselves.

This acknowledgement is the first step in having more freedom to respond wisely in the face of an emotional response.

B: Be open and breathe

Be open to the emotion that has arrived, allowing it to be present.

We are wired to pull away from emotions such as anger, sadness or fear; they don’t feel good in our bodies. This second step asks you to be open and stay with whatever emotion has been activated, remembering that difficult emotions are a normal part of being human.

Rather than suppressing or denying our emotions, this step encourages us to make room for them. Interestingly, by being open to whatever emotion is present, we actually allow them to flow through us, rather than linger and get stuck as we expend more energy trying to push them away.

Use the breath as a way to stay anchored to yourself in the midst of an overwhelming emotion, and use the outbreath to release any tension in the body associated with the emotion. With each outbreath you can silently say to yourself, ‘I send compassion to this particular emotion.’ This phrase can interrupt the reactivity and help you soothe yourself.

C: Curiously explore

Curiously explore and turn towards the experience.

Ask yourself, where do I feel this emotion in my body? What sensations are associated with this emotion? What am I believing?

The key to this step is to bring a quality of kindness and gentleness to the investigation, as if you were a parent gently exploring what has upset your child.

Where do you feel the emotion in your body?

Be curious about the quality of the emotion. Do you experience it as solid and permanent, or do you notice it changes as you pay attention?

D: Don’t be hard on yourself and de-identify with the emotion

This step asks you to use difficult emotions as an opportunity to develop your self-compassion. Remind yourself that, just like every other human on the planet, you are not perfect, and will inevitably be thrown off-centre and react in ways you feel ashamed about.

It is also an opportunity to remember the universal truth of impermanence, the fact that everything is transient and that emotions are no exception.

De-identifying from emotion means that you recognise that this emotion is a transient phenomenon, rather than some underlying personal deficit. You can experiment with silently noting to yourself, ‘I am noticing the feeling of [name the emotion] …’ Or simply, ‘Here is anger’. Rather than thinking, ‘I’m angry’, this subtle shift in perspective through labelling reminds us of the impermanent nature of emotions. In this way we can hold emotions more lightly, and forgive ourselves more easily when we behave in ways that feel reactive or unwise.

When you experience a difficult emotion, you can practise the ABC of Emotional First Aid by simply taking yourself through the steps in your own mind. Otherwise it can be used retrospectively once the emotion has passed, as a way of making sense of the situation and developing an understanding of your personal emotional triggers. I’ve even found it extremely useful to use the ABC steps as prompts for journaling about difficult emotions. Often when we get emotionally triggered, we perceive one dominant emotion (such as anger), but by pausing and curiously exploring that emotion, we discover that other emotions may be hidden beneath.

Try this practice out the next time you are emotionally triggered and let us know how you find it in the Facebook group.

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