If you've ever done mindfulness on your emotionally driven habits you'll become aware of the pattern that keeps your habit in motion. Within an habitual pattern are sequences of emotionally driven impulse, intention, and behavior. If we closely pay attention to an emotionally driven pattern we will begin to note each segment clearly. In noticing these segments and acknowledging them in action we begin to notice areas for a possible intervention.
To unseat an emotionally driven habit, you might want to experiment with the Habit Cracker Exercise which first brings our awareness to the habitual pattern and then focuses on the moment between intention and impulse to act.
Warning: Folks with a history of mental illness, PTSD, or panic are urged not to use these techniques without a therapist. If you decide to do these processes you will agree to absolve the webmaster, the webhost, Emoclear.com, and Steve Mensing of any responsibility for the application or misapplication of these processes. There is always in any process the possibility that someone could experience some discomfort.
1. Bring awareness to all segments of a behavioral pattern: Review your chosen behavior from start to finish. Notice the behavior's different parts or segments. When you are finished go immediately to step 2.
2. Bring your full and relaxed attention to your chosen emotionally driven habit. Watch it clearly from start to finish. Do this several times prior to making changes. You may observe this behavior with no intention of getting rid of it or keeping it. Just give it your full and undivided attention.
3. Become aware of your initial intention to act. What is your intention? Can you write it down once during your observation?
4. Observe the moment between your intention to act and the actual impulse to act. Give your full attention to this split second prior to the impulse to act.
5. Observe the impulse to act. This impulse flows mindlessly from an emotion (anger, anxiety, fear, sadness etc).
6. Observe the impulse-driven action. In bringing our attention to the intention, the moment between intention and the impulse to act, the impulse to act, and the action, we are observing the emotionally driven pattern. This conscious awareness on this automatic sequence can help to break the emotionally driven pattern. The break is best brought about at the start of a sequence pattern.
7. When you have begun to note the split second moment between your initial intention and the impulse to act, then you can simply choose to do nothing or choose to do something else. We have a choice at this valuable point. We can choose not to act or we can choose to do something else.
Practice bringing your awaressness to the 4 basic sequences of impulse driven behavior. Know them clearly.
Do the observation with no intention of getting rid of or keeping the behavior. Your attention at the start is just to note what occurs.
Pay attention to that split second interval between your intention and your arising impulse to act. Practice doing nothing or some other action in that instant before the impulse arises. You can physically go through this or visualize this sequence to allow it to feel more natural in time.
Practicing this awareness and new responses will help pull us to an outside position so we will not be caught up in the emotionally driven sequence.
We can also consciously label each of the segments to bring it under more conscious control and assure the "just back" position. Example: "Intention" "Moment before impulse" "Impulse to act" "Action"
This approach can be added to our tool kit for handling impulse driven actions like: Acting angrily, panicking, eating impulsively.
You can integrate any emotional segments in your observed habitual sequence. The intention can be changed. The emotion that the impulse arises out of can be targeted for integration.
Be aware of any emotional response that arises out of your short-circuited behavior. This would be grist for integrating.
At the end practice your new behavior (Or non action) over and over through visualization and in real life until it feels natural and becomes habitual.
Take care, Steve