Pushing Away: A Distress Tolerance Tool

In life, we cannot magically make our emotions go away. Sometimes it can take hours, days, or weeks for emotions to subside depending on the circumstances. Learning to tolerate our emotions more effectively can make a world of difference in our lives. One specific distress tolerance tool is called “Pushing Away.” 

Pushing Away is a skill that can help you manage overwhelming or distressing emotions by creating some psychological distance between you and the situation or feeling. Essentially, it involves imagining that you are pushing the distressing emotion away from you, or setting it aside for a period of time so that you can take a break from it and come back to it later when you feel more prepared to deal with it.

Here are some steps to follow when using the Pushing Away skill:

  • Identify the emotion that you want to push away. It could be anxiety, worry, anger, frustration, sadness, or any other strong feeling.
  • Visualize yourself pushing the emotion away from you. Imagine that you are physically pushing it away from your body, or putting it into a box or container.
  • Take a break from the emotion. Use this time to distract yourself with a calming activity or something that brings you joy. This can help you calm down and gain some perspective on the emotion. You might practice self-soothing.
  • Come back to the emotion later. Once you have taken some time to calm down and gain perspective, come back to the emotion and try to approach it in a more constructive way. This could involve problem-solving, writing out your thoughts, or talking to someone you trust.

There are several benefits to using the Pushing Away skill as part of your distress tolerance toolkit. For example:

  • It can help you avoid reacting in ways that you might later regret when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
  • It can help you feel more in control of your emotions and reduce the feeling that they are taking over your life.
  • It can give you time to regroup and come up with a plan for how to deal with the emotion or situation more effectively.

Overall, Pushing Away is a useful tool for anyone who wants to manage their emotions more effectively. By using it, you can gain some distance from overwhelming emotions and create the space you need to deal with them in a more constructive way. 

Contact Me:

If you’re interested in learning more about distress tolerance, please reach out to me, clinical psychologist, Dr. Christine E. Dickson through my website.

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