Have you ever sent an angry text or email and wished you could take it back? Or acted impulsively and wondered, ‘What was I thinking?’ Strong emotions can hijack our brains and make us do things we regret.
Here’s a healthy way to tame those negative feelings before they get that strong.
This hack, called the T-R-U-T-H Technique,* controls impulsive behavior in a surprising way.
It separates emotion from action by forcing your attention away from where it naturally wants to be.
Without this hack, your brain will tend to fixate on the question, “What should I do about this?” and you’ll escalate emotionally until you take (possibly regrettable) action.
The five parts of this simple technique spell out the word “TRUTH.” You can do the parts in any order, or even all at once.
Make sure you’re feeling something before you start – this is not just an intellectual exercise.
Do this alone if you can. It’s silent and only takes a minute, but it might make you cry:
T = Tell yourself the situation.
What are your feelings about? Keep it simple, like, “My ex is getting married.”
R = Realize what you’re feeling right now.
Give a name to what you’re feeling; e.g., “hurt,” “embarrassed,” “grief,” etc.
U = Uncover self-criticism.
Scan for thoughts like, I shouldn’t feel this way, or I’m such a hypocrite.
T = Try to understand yourself.
Why would a good person feel exactly the way you do?
H = Have the feeling.
Focus on the feeling in your body right now. Hang on to it as long as you can.
According to experts, actual emotions last only minutes in your brain, not hours or days. So go ahead and wallow. Like a sneeze that has a beginning, middle and end, your feelings will be done with you soon enough if you don’t resist them.
Big emotions that need more time and attention for processing will come back again later. Just repeat this technique as needed. You’ll notice it gets easier with time.