The S.T.O.P Skill for Intense Emotions

The S.T.O.P Skill for Intense Emotions

We all come across intense emotions. One main characteristic of such emotions is that they call for action; this could be anything from shouting back at your boss who just snapped at you, calling your ex at 2am, or throwing/breaking things because of anger. However based on pain or anger, intense emotions can lead us to actions or behaviors which are not beneficial, both in the short- and in the long-term.

Derived from Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (developed my Marsha M. Linehan), the STOP skill is a very useful skill to practice and use when you are dealing with intense emotions and you need to stay in control.

(S)top – Don’t act. Freeze. Freezing for a moment helps prevent you from impulsively acting on your emotions without thinking, which can bring negative outcomes.
(T)ake a step back – When in a difficult situation, it’s usually hard to think about what’s the best way to deal with it on the spot. Give yourself some time to calm down. Take a break from the situation, both mentally and physically. Take some deep breaths.
(O)bserve – Notice what is going on inside you (thoughts and emotions) and around you. It is essential to take into account all relevant facts and think of all the available options you have.
(P)roceed Mindfully – Think about your short-term and long-term goals and about the consequences different courses of action will have. Ask yourself, “What do I want from this situation? What choice might make this situation better or worse?” Choose the best course of action accordingly.

As I am used to saying to my clients, STOP skill is not a skill that one just masters; it is rather a life skill which takes constant and conscious practice.

It is reasonable for impulsivity to take over at times, although you will eventually notice this lessening or taking less negative forms.

You might not be able to implement the skill in every occasion it would be warranted, but you will certainly be thankful for the ones you will.