Skills For Painful Events & Emotions

Skills for tolerating painful events and emotions when you cannot make things better right away.

  • DISTRACT with “Wise Mind ACCEPTS”.





Pushing Away














One thing at a time





A useful way to remember these skills is the phrase “Wise Mind ACCEPTS”.

With Activities:

Engage in exercise or hobbies; do cleaning; go to events; call or visit a friend; play computer games; go walking; work; play sports; go out to a meal, have a refreshing smoothie or juice; chop wood; do gardening; play pinball.

With Contributing:

Contribute to someone; do volunteer work; give something to someone else; make something nice for someone else; do a surprising, thoughtful thing.

With Comparisons:

Compare yourself to people coping the same as you or less well than you. Compare yourself to those less fortunate than you. Watch soap operas; read about disasters, others’ suffering.

With Pushing Away:

Push the situation away by leaving it for a while. Leave the situation mentally. Build an imaginary wall between yourself and the situation. Or push the situation away by blocking it in your mind. Censor running. Refuse to think about the painful aspects of the situation. Put the pain on the shelf. Box it up and put it away for a while.

With intense other Sensations:

Hold ice in hand: squeeze a rubber ball very hard: stand under a hot shower (not scorching hot); listen to loud music; put a rubber band on wrist and lightly pull and release; pull out, and let go.

Self Soothe

A way to remember these skills is to think of soothing each of your FIVE SENSES.

With Vision:

Buy one beautiful flower; make one space in a room pretty; light a candle and watch the flame; set a pretty place at the table, using your best things for a meal; go to a museum with beautiful art; go sit in the lobby of a beautiful, old hotel; look at nature around you; go out in the middle of the night and watch the stars; walk in a pretty/cool part of town; do your nails, look at beautiful pictures; go to a performance, or watch one on TV/computer. Be mindful of the sight that passes in front of you, not lingering on any thing else.

With Hearing:

Listen to beautiful or soothing music, or to invigorating and exciting music; pay attention to sounds of nature (waves, birds, rainfall, leaves rustling); sing to your favorite songs; hum a soothing tune; learn to play an instrument, or play an instrument; call information numbers to hear a human voice. Be mindful of any sounds that come your way, letting them go in one ear and out the other.

With Smell:

Use your favorite smell (essential oils, perfumes, lotions); spray fragrance in the air or light a candle; put lemon oil on the furniture, put potpourri in a bowl in a room; boil cinnamon; smell the roses; walk in a wooded area and mindfully breathe in the fresh smell of nature.

With Taste:

Have a good meal; have a soothing drink (lemon water, etc.); sample food in a store, get a little bit of a food you don’t usually spend the money on, such as fresh-squeezed orange juice, Really taste the food you eat; eat one thing mindfully.

With Touch:

Take a bubble bath; put clean sheets on the bed; pet your dog, or cat, or soft blanket/stuffed-animal; have a massage; soak your feet; put creamy lotion on your whole body; put a face mask on; put a cold compress on your forehead; sink into a really comfortable chair; put on a comfortable clothing object; brush your hair for a longer amount of time than usual. Experience whatever you are touching; notice touch that is soothing.

Improve the Moment

A way to remember these skills is the word IMPROVE.

With Imagery:

Imagine very relaxing scenes. Imagine a secret room within yourself, seeing how it is decorated. Go into a room whenever you feel threatened. Close the door on anything that can hurt you. Imagine everything going well. Imagine coping well. Make up a fantasy world that is calming and beautiful in your mind, go with it. Imagine hurtful emotions draining out of you like a water pipe.

With Meaning:

Find or create some purpose, meaning or value in the pain. Remember, listen to, or read about spiritual values. Focus on whatever positive aspects of a painful situation you can find. Repeat them over and over in your mind. “Make lemonade out of lemons.”

With Prayer:

Open your heart to a supreme being, greater wisdom, God, your own wise mind. Ask for strength to bear the pain in this moment. Turn things over to God or a higher being.

With Relaxation:

Try muscle relaxing by tensing and relaxing each large muscle group, starting with your hands and arms, going to the top of your head, and them working down; listen to a relaxation tape; exercise hard; take a hot or cold bath/shower; massage your neck and scalp, your calves and feet; practice yoga; get in a tub filled with very hot and stay in it until the water is tepid; breathe deeply; half-smile; change facial expressions.

With One thing in the moment:

Focus your entire attention on just what you’re doing right now. Keep yourself in the very moment you are in; put your mind in the present. Focus your entire attention on physical sensations that accompany non-mental tasks (e.g. walking, washing, doing dishes, cleaning, fixing). Be aware of how your body moves during each task. Do awareness exercises.

With brief Vacation:

Give yourself a brief vacation. Get in bed and pull the covers up over your head (not suffocating) for 20 minutes. Rent a hotel room at the beach or in the woods (go camping) for a day or two; drop your towels on the floor after you use them. Ask your roommate to bring you your favorite food or to make dinner (offer to reciprocate). Get a magazine or newspaper; get in bed with a treat and read it. Bundle up in a chair, and eat it slowly. Take a blanket to the park and sit on it for a whole afternoon. Unplug your phone for a day, or let your answering machine screen your calls. Take a 1-hour breather from hard work that must be done.

With Encouragement:

Cheerlead yourself. Repeat over and over: “I can stand it,” “It won’t last forever,” “I will make it out of this,” “I’m doing the best I can do.”

Thinking of PROS AND CONS

Make a list of the pros and cons of tolerating the distress. Make another list of the pros and cons of not tolerating the distress-that is, of coping by hurting yourself, abusing alcohol or drugs, or doing something else impulsive.

Focus on long-term goals, the light at the end of the tunnel. Remember times when the pain has ended.

Think of positive consequences of tolerating the distress. Imagine in your mind how good you will feel if you achieve your goals, if you don’t act impulsively.

Think of all of the negative consequences of not tolerating your current distress. Remember what has happened in the past when you acted impulsively to escape the moment.

Guidelines for Accepting Reality:


  • Observing Your Breath:

Focus your attention on your breath, coming in and out. Observe your breathing as a way to center yourself in your wise mind. Observe your breathing as a way to take hold of your mind, dropping off nonacceptance and fighting reality.

  1. Deep Breathing

Lie on your back. Breathe evenly and gently, focusing your attention on the movement of your stomach. As you begin to breathe in, allow your stomach to rise in order to bring air into the lower half of your lungs. As the upper halves of your lungs begin to fill with air, your chest begins to rise and your stomach begins to lower. Don’t tire yourself. Continue for 10 breaths. The exhalation will begin to be longer than the inhalation.

2. Measuring Your Breath By Your Footsteps

Walk slowly in a yard, along a sidewalk. or on a path. Breathe normally.Determine the length of your breathe, the exhalation and the inhalation, by the number of your footsteps. Continue for a few minutes. Begin to lengthen your exhalation be one step. Do not force a longer inhalation. Let it be natural. Watch your inhalation carefully to see whether there is a desire to lengthen it. Continue for 10 breaths.

Now lengthen the exhalation by one more footstep. Watch to see whether the inhalation also lengthens by one step or not. Only lengthen the inhalation when you feel that it will give delight. After 20 breaths, return your breath normal. About 5 minutes later, you begin the practice of lengthened breaths again. When you feel the least bit tired, return to normal. After several sessions of the practice of lengthened breath, your exhalation and inhalation will grow equal in length. Do not practice long, equal breaths for more than 10 to 20 breaths before returning to normal.

3. Counting Your Breath

Sit cross-legged on the floor (sit in the half or full lotus position if you know); or sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor; or kneel; or lie flat on the floor; or take a walk. As you inhale, be aware that “I am inhaling, 1.” When you exhale, be aware that “I am exhaling, 1.” Remember to breathe from the stomach. When beginning the second inhalation, be aware that “I am inhaling, 2.” And slowly exhaling, be aware that “I am exhaling, 2.” Continue on up through 10. After you have reached 10, return to 1. Whenever you lose count, return to 1.

4. Following Your Breath While Listening To Music

Listen to a piece of music. Breath long, light, and even breaths. Follow your breathe; be master of it while remaining aware of the movement and sentiments of the music. Do not get lost in the music, but continue to be master of your breath and yourself.

5. Following Your Breath While Carrying On A Conversation

Breathe long, light and even breaths. Follow your breathe while listening to a friend’s words and to your own replies. Continue as with the music.

6. Following The Breath

Sit cross-legged on the floor (sit in the half or full lotus position if you know); or sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor; or kneel; or lie flat on the floor; or take a walk. Begin to inhale gently and normally (from the stomach), aware that “I am inhaling normally.” Exhale in awareness, “I am exhaling normally.” Continue for three breaths. On the fourth breath, extend the inhalation, aware that “I am in a long inhalation.” Exhale in awareness, “I am breathing out a long exhalation.” Continue for three breaths.

Now follow your breath carefully, aware of every movement of your stomach and lungs. Follow the entrance and exit of air. Be aware that “I am inhaling and following the inhalation from its beginning to its end. I am exhaling and following the exhalation from its beginning to its end.”

Continue for 20 breath. Return to normal. After 5 minutes, repeat exercise. Maintain a half-smile while breathing. Once you have “mastered” this exercise, move on to the next.

7. Breathing To Quiet The Mind And Body

Sit cross-legged on the floor (sit in the half or full lotus position if you know); or sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor; or kneel; or lie flat on the floor. Half-smile. Follow your breath. When your mind and body are quiet, continue to inhale and exhale very lightly; be aware that “I am breathing in and making the breath and body light and peaceful. I am breathing out and making the breath and body light and peaceful.” Continue for three breaths, giving rise to the thought, “I am breathing in while my body and mind are at peace. I am breathing out while my body and mind are at peace.”

Maintain this though in awareness from 5 to 30 minutes, according to your ability and to the time available to you. The beginning and the end of the practice should be relaxed and gentle. When you want to stop, gently massage the muscles in your legs before returning to a normal sitting position. Wait a moment before standing up.

Guidelines for Accepting Reality:

Half-Smiling Exercises

Half Smile

Accept reality with your body. Relax (by letting go or just tensing and then letting go) your face, neck, and shoulder muscles and half-smile with your lips. A tense smile is a grin (and might tell the brain you are hiding or masking). A half-smile is slightly turned-up lips with a relaxed face. Try to adopt a serene facial expression. Remember, your body communicates to your mind.

    1. Half-Smile When Your First Wake Up In The Morning

Hang a branch, any other sign, or even the word “smile” on the ceiling or wall so that you see it right away when you open your eyes. This sign will serve as your reminder. Use these seconds before you get out of bed to take hold of your breath. Inhale and exhale three breaths gently while maintaining a half-smile. Follow your breaths.

    2. Half-Smile During Your Free Moments

Anywhere you find yourself sitting or standing, half-smile. Look at a child, a leaf, a painting on a wall, or anything that is relatively still, and smile. Inhale and exhale quietly three times.

    3. Half-Smile While Listening To Music

Listen to a piece of music for 2 to 3 minutes. Pay attention to the words, music, rhythm, and sentiments of the music you are listening to (not your daydreams of other times). Half-smile while watching your inhalations and exhalations.

    4. Half-Smile When Irritated

When you realize “I’m irritated,” half-smile at once. Inhale and exhale quietly, maintaining a half-smile for three breaths.

    5. Half-Smile In A Lying-Down Position

Lie on your back on a flat surface without the support of mattress or pillows. Keep your two arms loosely by your sides and keep your legs slightly apart, stretched out before you. Maintain a half-smile. Breathe in and out gently, keeping your attention focused on your breathe. Let go of every muscle in your body. Relax each muscle as though it were sinking down through the floor, or as though it were soft and yielding a piece of silk hanging in the breeze to dry. Let go entirely, keeping your attention only on your breath and half-smile. Think of yourself as a cat, completely relaxed before a warm fire, whose muscles yield without resistance to anyone’s touch. Continue for 15 breaths.

    6. Half-Smile In A Sitting Position

Sit on the floor with your back straight, or on chair with your two feet flat on the floor. Half-smile. Inhale and exhale while maintaining the half-smile. Let go.

    7. Half-Smile While Contemplating The Person You Hate Or Despise The Most

Sit quietly. Breathe and smile a half-smile. Imagine the person who has cause you the most suffering. Regard the features you hate or despise the most ore find the most repulsive. Try to examine what makes this person happy and what causes suffering in his or her daily. Imagine the person’s perceptions; try to see what pattern of thought and reasons this person follows. Examine what motivates this person’t hopes and actions. Finally, consider the person’s consciousness. See whether the person’s views and insights are open and free or not, and whether or not the person has been influenced be any prejudices, narrow-mindedness, hatred, or anger. See whether or not the person is master of himself or herself. Continue until you feel compassion rise in your heart like a well filling with fresh water, and your anger and resentment disappear. Practice this exercise many times on the same person.

Guidelines For Accepting Reality:

Awareness Exercises

    1. Awareness Of The Positions Of The Body

This can be practiced in any time and place. Begin to focus your attention on your breath. Breath quietly and more deeply than usual. Be mindful of the position of your body, whether you are walking, standing, lying, or sitting down. Know where you walk, stand, lie, or sit. Be aware of the purpose of your position. For example, you might be conscious that you are standing on a green hillside in order to refresh yourself, to practice breathing, or just to stand. If there is no purpose, be aware that there is no purpose.

    2. Awareness Of Connection To The Universe

This can be practiced any time, any place. Focus your attention on where your body touches an object (floor or ground, air molecules, a chair or arm rest, your bed sheets and covers, your clothes, etc.). Try to see all the ways you are connected to and accepted be what object. Consider the function of that object with relation to you. Thats is, consider what the object does for you. Consider it kindness to doing that. Experience the sensation of touching the object and focus your entire attention on that kindness until a sense of being connected or loved or care for arises in your heart.

Examples: Focus your attention on your feet touching the ground. Consider the kindness of the ground holding you up, providing a path for you to get to other things, not letting you fall away from everything else. Focus your attention on your body touching the chair you sit in. Consider how the chair accepts totally, holds you up, supports your back, keeps you from falling down on the floor. Focus your attention on the sheets and covers on your bed. Consider the touch of the sheets and covers holding you, surrounding and keeping you warm and comfortable. Consider the walls in the room. They keep out the wind and the cold/heat and the rain. Think of how the walls are connected to you via the floor and the air in the room. Experience your connection to the walls that provide you with a secure place to do things. Go hug a tree (be a tree hugger for a few minutes ;)). Think of how you and the tree are connected. Life is in you and in the tree and both of you are warmed be the sun, held by air and supported by the earth. Try and experience the tree loving you by providing something to lean on, or by shading you.

    3. Awareness While Making Tea Or Coffee Or Juice/Smoothie

Prepare tea, coffee, or juice/smoothie to serve to a guest or to drink by yourself. Do each movement slowly in awareness. Do not let one detail of your movements go by without being aware of it. Know that your hand lifts the pot/blender by its handle. Know that you are pouring the fragrant, warm tea or coffee or juice/smoothie, into the cup. Follow each step in awareness. Breathe gently and more deeply than usual. Take hold of your breath if your mind strays.

    4. Awareness While Washing The Dishes

Wash the dishes consciously, as though each bowl is an object of contemplation. Consider each bowl as sacred. Follow your breath to prevent your mind from straying. Do not try to hurry to get the job over with. Consider washing the dishes as the most important thing in life, at that moment.

    5. Awareness While Hand-Washing Clothes

Do not wash too many clothes at one time. Select only three or four articles of clothing. Find the most comfortable position to sit or stand so as to prevent a backache. Scrub the clothes consciously. Hold your attention on every movement of your hands and arms. Pay attention to the soap and water. When you have finished scrubbing and rinsing, your mind and body will feel as clean and fresh as your clothes. Remember to maintain a half-smile and take hold of your breathe whenever your mind wanders.

    6. Awareness While Cleaning House

Divide your work into stages; straightening things and putting away books, scrubbing the toilet. scrubbing the bathroom, sweeping the floors, and dusting. Allow a good length of time for each task. For example, while placing the book on the shelf, look at the book, be aware of what book it is, know that you are in the process of placing it on the shelf, and know that you intend to put it in that specific place. Know that your hand reaches for the book, and picks it up. Avoid any abrupt or harsh movement. Maintain awareness of the breath, especially when your thoughts wander.

    7. Awareness While Taking A Slow-Motion Bath

Allow yourself 30-45 minutes to take a bath. Don’t hurry for even a second. From the moment you prepare the bath water to the moment you put on clean clothes, let every motion be light and slow. Be attentive of every movement. Place your attention to every part of your body, without discrimination or fear. Be aware of each stream of water on your body. By the time you’ve finished, your mind will feel as peaceful and light as your body. Follow your breath. Think of yourself as being in a clean and fragrant lotus pond in the summer.

    8. Practicing Awareness With Meditation

Sit comfortably on the floor with your back straight, on the floor or in a chair with both feet flat on the floor. Close your eyes all the way, or open them slightly and gaze at something near. With each breathe, say to yourself, quietly and gently, the word “One.” As you inhale, say the word “One.” As you exhale say the word “One,” calmly and slowly. Try to collect your whole mind and put it into this one word. When your mind strays, return gently to saying “One.” If you start wanting to move, try not to move. Just gently observe wanting to move. Continue practicing a little past wanting to to stop. Just gently observe wanting to stop.

Good for you if you read the whole thing!! Its long but very helpful 🙂

*Most of what is mentioned, I got from a book but some of it is my own words.

I believe in you guys and know ya’ll can get through anything with the help from God!




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