OWL (Offer of Wise-Minded Learning): Don’t Just Do Something — Stand There!
The next time you are really upset, instead of listening to your negative thoughts, or even actively trying to replace negative thoughts with realistic appraisals, try this technique of riding the wave. The key is to identify the thought or feeling. Then, instead of continuing to think the thought, or reacting to it somehow, you will just “observe” it. Imagine the word or sentence on a wave and watch it rise up and then slowly recede. Alternatively, you could see it on a cloud passing by, or on a leaf floating past in a stream. You see it come, and then go. Breathe deeply during this exercise.
“Sometimes I hate my kids!”
You see this sentence on a wave. Or maybe just HATE. There it is, in neon letters on a wave. HATE appears on a big wave that rises up and then floats away.
“I can’t take it anymore! I feel like my teen is a horrible brat!”
You see HORRIBLE BRAT written on a cloud. Observe this cloud. Watch it pass. If your emotional arousal keeps producing this intrusive thought, ride the wave several more times while breathing deeply.
Test your “Emotion IQ” and read more about the nature of emotions in Wise-Minded Parenting: 7 Essentials for Raising Successful Tweens + Teens, chapter 5: Emotional Flourishing.