It happened earlier this week…a bad day.
I was minding my own business and going about my normal morning routine. Took our daughter to school, went for a hike in the beautiful hills behind our house, said good morning to a few smiling dogs, got back to my desk and whammo!
A barrage of repetitive, negative thoughts from all directions. There were ones that told me I wasn’t good enough, ones who said nobody cares about you, there were ones who told me my future was dismal and to just give up and then there was the one pusherman telling me that everything would be better with a little junkfood.
Not up for a wallow in self-pity, I released an arsenal of self-care tactics.
I practiced yoga, but it was half-assed.
I took an herbal formula and sprayed my flower essences, they never kicked in.
I willed it away by plunging myself into work, I couldn’t focus.
I finally dropped everything, sat outside on our deck and chanted to Ganesha, remover of obstacles, my cat kept biting my toes.
Dammit! The thoughts were bullying, pushing me down to my knees, twisting my wrists and giving me Indian burns until I finally gave in. A squall of grief, frustration and anger washed over me. I curled up and let the emotion wash over and through me. I stopped asking where it was coming from and just let it happen. I let myself cry without really knowing what I was crying about. I placed one hand on my heart and one on my belly and fell asleep for almost and hour. When I woke up, it was gone. Poof!
Those thoughts kept wanting to return. But this time it was like that teasing boy you sat beside in 1st grade, rather than the big, hulking school bullies.
So often we push away our difficult emotions because they’re well, difficult. But really it’s not the emotions that are so difficult, it’s the thoughts around them. So often the tsunami of negative thought rises up to get our attention so we will simply sit down, strap in and feel.
Many of you would rather stick pins in your eyes before feeling a yucky emotion. But again, it’s not the emotions which are difficult, it’s the stories we attach to them. Face it, how good has it felt when you were so angry you chucked a shoe across the room, or screamed at the top of your lungs in the sanctuary of your car, or curled up for about five minutes and had a really good cry? These are all releases of emotion, of stored energy. That’s it, that’s all. So why do we feel so badly about expressing them?
The stories, the thoughts we attach to these emotions take us into a downward spiral of blame and projection. Here’s an example:
We feel irritable,
then we feel ashamed that we feel irritable
then we blame and project that onto the most convenient person or situation
then we create a self-preservation story around it
then we feel more irritable at that person or situation
then we just stew in this new story until we spiral into an unhealthy behavior
What would it be like if we just felt irritable without the shame? If we just allowed ourselves to feel the actual emotion without the story?
We feel irritable
We feel its discomfort
We label what we’re feeling
We accept that we’re feeling this right now
We throw a shoe or shout into a pillow
We grit our teeth
and then it’s done
It really is that simple! Oh and for those repetitive, negative thoughts? Know that those voices aren’t really yours, they’re imprints you’ve picked up along the way…kinda like the hitchhiking ghosts in Disney’s Haunted Mansion ride.
So when you hear them, stop. Think about what you want to accomplish in that moment, getting work done, going back to sleep, staying present in that yoga pose…whatever it is, realign your focus towards doing that. The thoughts, just like that boy you sat beside in 1st grade, will quiet down when you stop reacting, turn around and just ignore them.
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