The Mindful Question Method -Learn How to Deal With Negative Emotions Using A Simple Cognitive Technique

In this article you’ll learn a practical technique of how to deal with negative emotions

This technique is based on the psychological principle of mindfulness.  Mindfulness is currently very popular in psychology and alternative disciplines. And I have personally found that it’s helpful for pretty much every clinical condition.

It’s now been incorporated into many systems of psychotherapy. Most notable Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, which has been clinically found to be effective for such serious conditions as: Psychosis, Depression , various anxiety disorders and many others.

There are many different definitions of mindfulness since this concept has originated in ancient traditions, most notably Buddhism   And because of that different teachers teach mindfulness in a different way.

Many people think that you have to meditate for years to be able to make full use of mindfulness.

But I personally disagree.

For you see in my honest opinion once you  really understand what mindfulness is you’ll be able to elicit it cognitively. (Meaning by thought.)

Additionally your understanding will help with any other mindfulness practice that you do.

So let’s talk about what is mindfulness and how it relates to the method we’re gonna talk about in this article.

There’s a very specific and practical definition of mindfulness:

“Mindfulness is paying attention and accepting unconditionally everything that’s in your present moment awareness”

I have emphasized the part of the definition that relates to present moment awareness to keep you from making a mistake I see a lot of people do.

A lot of people (for example myself in the past) confuse accepting what is in the moment with accepting the situation and basically giving up.

We’re not talking about that here. We’re talking about accepting the sensations, thoughts, and emotions you’re experiencing at this moment in time and feeling them completely and fully

This is very important in the context of emotional management because one of the counter-intuitive things about emotional management is that the more you resist an emotion the stronger it gets.

Additionally there’s the concept of experiential avoidance which is basically escaping your emotions  which has been found time and time again in scientific research to be one of the leading causes of maladaptive behaviour.

So a good way of dealing with emotions is to mindfully pay attention to them and accept them as they are.

This  will be elaborated to an even greater extend in future articles. But now I want to give you a very practical and straightforward technique to do exactly that.

It is scientifically  shown that it helps with depression, anxiety and numerous other emotional problems

There is very serious research that proves that mindfulness helps with emotional management to the point that this is no longer a speculation or a  thought but a fact.

It’s been even shown to help with such problems as anxiety, psychosis and depression.

The method that I’m showing you here is basically a very ‘quick and easy’ way to make you mindful when you need  it the most – when you’re experiencing negative emotions.

Schreiner, I., & Malcolm, J. P. (2008). The Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation: Changes in Emotional States of Depression, Anxiety, and Stress. Behaviour Change25(3), 156-168. doi:10.1375/bech.25.3.156

(acceptance and commitment therapy book- cite that to)

The Mindful Question Method – A Very Simple Cognitive Method For Becoming Mindful

I created it because people who have depression can’t concentrate so they find focus-based mindfulness techniques very hard, and so this is a practical cognitive alternative to them

First I want to demonstrate this technique

  1. Please pick an issue that’s relatively mild, something you find uncomfortable but at the same time isn’t traumatic
  2.  Please think about it, and  allow yourself to feel whatever you feel
  3. Acknowledge it and try to feel it in the moment as best you can without resisting it. Hold it for a few minutes and go through the entire experience.
  4. Now ask yourself the question Can I allow myself to accept everything in this moment? (In my own experience this version of the question works best)  (alternative versions include:  Can I just accept for this moment in time the way that I feel? Or  Can I allow myself to unconditionally accept everything that’s happening in this moment? Can I accept what I experience at this moment? Or Can I accept what I feel at this moment? Use the one that appeals the most to you. The technique is all about asking yourself weather or not you can accept the experience you have in this moment in time. Additionally I have found that in my personal experience asking myself “Can I accept everything that’s happening in this moment?” works well too. (This particular variation is more all-inclusive and might work when the other one doesn’t seem to work.   ) 
  5. ( Both the yes and no answers are acceptable)
  6.  Now wait for a minute and repeat the experience, including the question. (Repeat step 2-4).
  7.  Repeat this until you’ll see a change in your reaction towards your problem

 

It’s highly probable that you’ll experience a slight shift in the intensity of your emotional experience, because for a moment you’ve stopped resisting the emotion  and that  has the tendency to take away some of it’s power.

In a nutshell the mindful question method is all about invoking mindfulness through asking yourself a question. There are many questions you can use in this method, and it’s only natural that different people will respond more to different variations of the question, just like different people prefer different flavors of juice.

What’s the theoretical basis of this technique?

This technique is based on the principle that questions are a very good medium to communicate with the unconscious mind.

The permissive approach of a question very often works far better than a simple suggestion or command. (Which is a principle used quite often in Ericksonian hypnosis).

This question is designed to elicit mindfulness at least for a moment. Long enough for the emotion to become less powerful.

A lot of people (for example myself in the past) confuse accepting what is in the moment with accepting the situation and not doing anything to change it. I know that there are many technique similar to it, and practitioners of it have often found that they become demotivated to change their current experience as they are told to ‘accept it’, which I have experience myself and I think it’s very important to mention the difference between the two things.

I know one technique very similar to this one that basically promises that your material situation will change if you’ll do the technique I’ll show you now long enough. According to it your acceptance  and mindfulness will somehow magically attract wonderful things to your life, and that the acceptance in of itself will lead to an improvement of your situation. (I’ll  complain about this theory quite extensively in another article I have planned)

How does this technique relates to meditation?

Meditation techniques in the mindfulness tradition basically aim to teach you the habit of doing this all the time with all of your experience.

Even doing it for a few seconds has a profound effect on many people and as a habit it’s even more powerful. That’s why mindfulness training techniques will be discussed on this blog in the future quite extensively.

A personal warning about this and similar techniques

A lot of people (for example myself in the past) confuse accepting what is in the moment with accepting the situation and not doing anything to change it. I know that there are many technique similar to it, and practitioners of it have often found that they become demotivated to change their current experience as they are told to ‘accept it’, which I have experience myself and I think it’s very important to mention the difference between the two things.

I know one technique very similar to this one that basically promises that your material situation will change if you’ll do the technique I’ll show you now long enough. According to it you’ll acceptance  and mindfulness will somehow magically attract wonderful things to your life, and that the acceptance in of itself will lead to an improvement of your situation. (I’ll  complain about this theory quite extensively in another article I have planned)

In short. This is a lie. Your situation will not magically change by using this technique (Even according to occult theory, which I’ll explain further in another article I have planned)

This technique only teaches you how to  deal with negative emotions

 

 

Are there any studies specifically on this technique?

Actually yes! In a 1996 study  they have asked one group to try to inhibit an anxious state and the other to just observe it.  The group that resisted their emotions experienced far greater levels of anxiety. 

Additionally all of this is based on the same principles as established approaches such as mindfulness based cognitive therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy and dialectical behavior therapy.

How do you apply it in real life?

Whenever I’m overwhelmed angry or sad. I just ask myself “Can I just accept everything in this moment?” and  very quickly  I feel more relaxed, as it helps me to become mindful in the centre of chaos.

What to do if this technique doesn’t work?

I know from experience that while this technique works very often for many day today emotional problems. Sometimes you need a more powerful approach.

I have found meridian energy therapy to work very well at lowering the emotional intensity of problems that are unresponsive to this technique, but at the same time the whole field of EFT, TFT and other related technique is so filled with pseudoscience that I’m now in the process of creating a non-nonsense version of it. Which you’ll be the first to learn about if you subscribe to my blog right now.

 

 

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About the Author ()

Hello I’m Matt Pepliński, the lies in alternative medicine have literary given me psychosis and as such I created this site to take the pseudo out of pseudoscience to make it actually useful in your life.