Part I of “The Emotional and Physical Impacts of Divorce” discussed how your body manufactures tangible substances that correspond to your emotional state. These substances relay messages to your cells, directing them to function in a specific way. It does not matter if you are happy or sad, or if you acknowledge your emotions or not. Your body always expresses your emotional state.
If dwelling on negative emotions causes havoc in your body, then why do you allow your negative emotions to dominate you? Why do you allow your chattering mind to constantly repeat its destructive dialogues? Why do you allow outside influences to trigger you? For many, the answer is simple. You have allowed your negative thinking to become habitual.
Unknowingly, you have conditioned yourself to respond in unhealthy ways. You have hardwired your brain by responding to your external triggers in the same manner over and over again. You have developed strong neural connections (in your brain) because of your repetitive responses. By reacting without awareness, you continuously flood your body with the same emotional substances. You create for yourself a state of psychological and physiological unrest.
Your conditioned responses are reactions that lack your awareness. You are reacting with unwilled behavior. Your past experiences leave imprints on you and, unknowingly, you use those past experiences as the measuring rod for each new situation you encounter. Your internal programming – your conditioning – causes you to “just react” to your situations. Reacting with unwilled behavior is mindlessness.
When you are mindless, you repeat the same inner conversations again and again. Your unruly mind continuously critiques your life story; it stirs up battles between “I” and “myself.” Comparisons are made and judgments are called as your incessant inner dialogues ramble on: “I” call “myself” a fool. “I” yell at “myself” in anger. “I” ridicule “myself.”
An undisciplined mind wants you to adhere to the stories that it has created. It does not hesitate to drag you back to your past or fret about your future. It evaluates your actions from days long gone and creates fears about your days yet to be lived. When your inner dialogues have you wandering around in the past or lost in the future, you forgo the present moment.
Mindfulness brings you back to the present moment. You retrieve your mind from the past and rein it in from the future. You halt the foolish stories to which your mind adheres. You cease the battles between “I” and “myself.” You build mental strength. You become present in your own life.
Attention and intention are the cornerstones of mindfulness. Therefore, you must direct your attention with a deliberate intention. If you want to break free from your habitual reactions – your conditioned responses – then you need to implement your attention and intention. You consciously place your focus (your attention) on your thoughts, emotions and behaviors, thereby allowing you to change your conditioned responses (that is your intention.)
It is not easy to be attentive. Placing your attention on anything for an extended period of time requires work. But when you place your attention on the present moment, you disconnect from the rambling thoughts that occupy your mind. You create an opportunity to stop your unwilled behavior.
It does not matter if someone is raging in anger at you or if you are experiencing your own anger. When you bring your attention to that person or to your own emotion, you create a space (of stillness) that allows you to stop your reactive response. The more you practice mindfulness, the larger your space of stillness will be. Subsequently, you will become less reactive.
Every time you stop a conditioned response, you are in turn loosening the wiring in your brain that is involved in your conditioning. By refusing to “just react,” you not only develop new thinking patterns, but you stop your body from continuously producing the same emotional substance over and over again. You stop flooding your body with the emotional substances associated with your unhealthy responses.
When your inner dialogues are ongoing, your mind (with its impulsive chattering) receives all of your attention. By focusing on your incessant inner conversations, you inadvertently cut yourself off from your body. You have no awareness of the sensations that are occurring within you. If you cannot hear what your body is saying, you cannot recognize the activation of your fight-or-flight response. Therefore, you cannot stop it. (You stop the fight-or-flight response by focusing your attention on your breathing.)
Mindfulness connects you to your body. When you retrieve your mind from the past or rein it in from the future, you become aware of the sensations that arise from your emotions. You are conscious of the biochemical responses that are occurring within you. You feel your emotion. Once you feel your emotion, you let that emotion pass through you. You do not hold onto your emotion. You do not suppress it nor do you dwell on it.
It is important to note that your emotions are not just some nuisance that you need to control. They actually serve a purpose. They guide you as you journey within yourself. They teach you about the various facets that comprise who you are. It is through your emotions that you learn about yourself. Therefore, it is vital that you become conscious of your emotions if you want to truly know who you are. (Remember, you are not the stories that your unruly mind would like you to believe.)
It does not matter if you are aware or unaware of your emotions. Your body always expresses them. By connecting with your body and feeling the sensations that arise within you, you wake up from your repetitive and destructive ways. You free yourself from the harmful emotional substances associated with your reactive responses. It is through mindfulness that you become responsible for your own well-being.
To have peace and harmony in your life and the lives of your children, you need to be mindful. Focus your attention with a deliberate intention. Use your body to help you become conscious of your (unconscious) emotions. Honor and respect not only your own emotions, but also the emotions of your children. Don’t spend your life wandering around mindlessly. Show up for your own life. Be present. Be mindful.
More from DivorcedMoms:
- 5 Ways To Find Peace And Closure After Divorce
- Top 3 Divorce Fears And How To Overcome Them
- 11 Ways To Optimize Your Emotional & Physical Health NOW
- The Five Stages of Divorce Recovery