Similar to being comfortable with her discomfort, Bruneau mentions that recognizing her secondary emotions was crucial for her recovery process. She defines primary emotions as those original feelings we experience in the moment, while secondary emotions are what we feel in response to those feelings (also known as the “Second Arrow” in Buddhism).
For example, if you were feeling depressed or anxious and then judged yourself for feeling that way, that shame from judgment would be your secondary emotion.
In Bruneau’s experience, whenever she would feel discomfort—be it anxiety, grief, or depression—she would berate herself for feeling that way, creating secondary emotions of guilt and shame. But through mindfulness, she was able to recognize those secondary emotions and realize that her primary emotions are OK—in fact, every emotion exists for an evolutionary reason.
“I realized that when I was experiencing mindfulness, I was no longer creating secondary emotions by judging myself for having my primary ones.”
Sometimes, being mindful of your own emotions can help you dispel the negative energy associated with them. It certainly helped Bruneau overcome her feelings of shame and spark her personal journey toward well-being.