Misplaced Emotion

Posted by on Nov 7, 2012 in CBT, Psychology, Therapy | Comments Off

Misplaced Emotion

We’ve all been there. Maybe we’ve noticed feeling impatient while driving in traffic, or expressing anger towards the barista who didn’t leave you room for milk in your coffee. Whenever we express our dissatisfaction towards the mundane events that don’t go our way, we are more than likely misplacing anxiety, fear, anger, or hurt that stems from one of the core areas of our lives – work, relationships, finances, etc. Instead of making your day more unpleasant than it needs to be, being mindful of what is going on in the moment may help contain the stress in those core areas of your life.

One way to contain the stress is to “surf the wave” of uncomfortable emotion in that moment. It may help to follow these mindfulness steps as a way to “surf the wave”: 1. Identify what the feeling is like in your body: It might feel like a pain in your stomach or perhaps it feels like a tension in your head and shoulders that needs to be released. 2. Once you have figured out how the emotion manifests in your body, remember that it will naturally subside if you just wait. During this time, it helps to imagine the emotion as a wave from the ocean traveling through your legs and eventually returning out to the ocean once again. Imagine your feet firmly planted in the sand, perhaps moving with the wave at times, but not losing your footing. 3. Once the wave has passed, think about what in your life may be causing you to feel this way. Is there a conflict in your relationship? Are you dissatisfied at work? Are you financially stuck and don’t have solution to get out of the rut?


Hopefully, by staying mindful, you will be able to solve the *real* problem causing you stress rather than letting the stress spread to your daily life and perhaps, making it worse in the end. If you would like to cultivate mindfulness, the book “Leave your mind behind” by Matthew McKay and Catherine Sutker is an easy read that provides several different exercises that will help you cultivate mindfulness in your every day lives. It also does a great job characterizing different kinds of worry thoughts so that you can get ahead of them before they start to control you.