Leaning into difficult emotions: The Staccato Technique

Recently, our hometown has been experiencing fires and heavy smoke conditions. Several weeks ago, our family had to evacuate our home. As I walked through the halls, I mentally checked that we packed each “must have” item as I closed each door behind me. I felt worried that we may forget something important. I felt afraid that we would lose all we have worked to accumulate, and I was terrified that our family could be injured physically or emotionally during this serious event. 

In this moment I realized I had a few options on how to proceed:

  1. I could run around and increase the level of chaos with uncontrolled emotion. 
  2. I could throw on a veneer emotion to appear as though there is nothing to fear and psych myself out of worry and potentially risk our family not understanding the severity of the need at hand. 
  3. I could ease into the emotion and the heaviness of the events surrounding our family and consider how to proceed wisely.

I chose to just breathe. 

I named each emotion and took a breath between each word. 

*slowly & deliberately breathe* 
“I (BREATHE)
feel (BREATHE)
worried (BREATHE).
---
I (BREATHE)
feel (BREATHE)
afraid (BREATHE).
---

I (BREATHE)
 feel (BREATHE)
overwhelmed.”

And you know what? 
I noticed that the concern at hand didn’t change.
The stress itself didn’t change, but my reaction to it did.
I was no longer feeling paralyzed by the worry but found it helped me focus on what was really important. I wasn’t held captive by the fear but found that it helped me proceed with a level of discernment and urgency.

In that moment, I found that the choice I took to ease into the difficult emotion allowed me to proceed with mindfulness and prudence. 


P R A C T I C E

As humans, we will inevitably face the challenges of stress and difficult emotions. No matter your age or experience, difficult emotions happen.

The benefits of The Staccato Technique can cross generations and cultures.  
It improves emotional intelligence,
it increases mindfulness,
it aids in cultivating awareness
and helps develop discernment even during the most distressing events and experiences.
It can be done silently or verbally, individually or as a group.

It just requires 2 things: emotion and breath.  

So, as you interact with your child, your grandparents, your neighbor who perhaps is reaching out to you in a moment of distress, or your own uncomfortable emotions, take a moment to practice The Staccato Technique by taking a brief pause to breathe between each of these three words: 

 Use the Staccato Technique to increase emotional intelligence and mindfulness; it is a cross-generational and cross-cultural mindfulness exercise designed to aid in cultivating awareness and help develop discernment even during the most distressing events and experiences.

Use the Staccato Technique to increase emotional intelligence and mindfulness; it is a cross-generational and cross-cultural mindfulness exercise designed to aid in cultivating awareness and help develop discernment even during the most distressing events and experiences.