If you’re struggling with controlling your emotions, consider how to STOPP (Vivyan, 2015). STOPP is a strategy that will help you in the heat of the moment when you are dealing with intense emotions. It incorporates aspects of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), and Mindfulness to help you more effectively address and manage your emotional response to a challenging, difficult, or rage-inducing incident.
STOPP stands for:
S – Stop! Just pause for a moment.
T – Take a Breath. Notice your breathing as you breathe in and out.
O – Observe
P – Pull Back – Put in Some Perspective
P – Practice What Works – Proceed
If you learn only one skill that will help you to more effectively regulate your emotions, this should be the one you learn. Learning how to pause in between an intense emotional reaction and your ensuing actions is one of the most valuable and life-changing skills that a person can have. Practice STOPPing, and you will be in a great position to manage your most difficult emotions.
Perhaps the most important emotion regulation skill, “learning to let go”, can be very difficult but is worth the effort you invest. Humans have a tendency to become stuck when attempting to process negative emotions. Instead of simply letting them go, we often hold even tighter to them, obsessing over every little bit of our emotional experience and wondering why it’s happening to us.
It sounds paradoxical, but the act of accepting that we are feeling emotions we would rather not feel can be the key to letting go of them. When we accept that we are suffering, we stop running from the difficult emotions and turn to face them – and when we do, we might see that it wasn’t the big bad monster we thought it was, but a smaller and more manageable beast.
Follow these steps to work on your ability to let go of negative emotions: