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The Table Video

Jeffrey M. Schwartz

How to Control Your Emotions

Research Psychiatrist, UCLA School of Medicine
December 17, 2013

Research Psychiatrist Jeffrey Schwartz (UCLA) explains how mindfulness can help you control your emotions in four practical steps that connect you to your Wise Advocate (the Holy Spirit) and connect you to your true values and life goals.


An effective way of regulating or modulating emotions that is very consistent with the way I’ve helped people treat obsessive-compulsive disorder, which is also very consistent with mindfulness is using techniques that basically put labels on the emotion. So that you basically learn how to identify using language based labels like “I’m feeling worried”, “I’m feeling angry”, “I’m feeling agitated,” and then place those labels in a constructive narrative that helps you control how intensely the emotion affects you.

I have developed the Four Step method, and I definitely developed this Four Step method to help people with obsessive-compulsive disorder, but in my book You Are Not Your Brain, I’ve expanded this method considerably to make it very applicable to any person. What we want to do is help people construct true narratives that take their long term goals and values into account.

The way you do that is getting in touch with what I call your Wise Advocate. Your Wise Advocate is really just another term for mindfulness. Honestly, the term mindfulness became so overused in pop psychology that some of its meaning was kind of being washed away the way things do happen when things end up in pop psychology.

I thought it was time to try another term, so together with my co-author, Rebecca Gladding, in the book You Are Not Your Brain, we came up with the term Wise Advocate as a proxy term for mindfulness. Wise Advocate is an inner guy that you can talk with, you can inner dialogue, create constructive narratives based on your capacity to label the way you’re feeling.

And in that process, control your emotional responses and make them more adaptive. That’s a simple way of putting it, but it’s a simple way of putting it that, hopefully you’ll be able to see, certainly has the potential for having a greater spiritual, and even divine, significance. [bright somber music]