- Mourning is natural. That deep sense of grief, loss, fear, anger, denial. This is why so many (all?) world cultures have periods of mourning built into their rituals of death and passage. There is a time to cry, scream, wail, thrash, if that is what you are feeling. But the periods end, because life goes on. If you can find the strength and clarity to say: “I will mourn and be depressed for a week, then I’ll shake myself off and get back to business” you are creating a bit of room between yourself and your emotions.
- YOU ARE NOT YOUR EMOTIONS. YOU ARE NOT THE VOICES IN YOUR HEAD. You are the one experiencing the emotions. The one LISTENING to the voices. Meditations of all kind help us create the separation necessary to gain perspective. But…give yourself time.
- Fear is useful so long as you have something to fight, or somewhere to run. Otherwise it just chews you up, destroys the joy in your life, diminishes function. The “strain tunnel” created by excessive stress shuts down the frontal lobes and throws you into the hindbrain’s world of survival nightmare. It says “panic is the only response!” and if you cannot DO something productive with that fear (run, fight, lift that car off your child) it leads to depression, exhaustion, and despair.
- Emotions are controlled by three things the first is: What you focus on. This is why most people who are depressed can summon energy if they are trying to help someone they love. Their attention is OFF themselves, and ON someone else, or something else. As soon as the emergency passes, they fall back into their former state. You can combat this by:
- Giving to others. Find someone to help, and concentrate on helping them. Donate your time. Lift someone up.
- The second major means of controlling emotions is use of language. You may not be able to control “the voices in your head” (worst case? You aren’t even aware enough to hear the chattering) but you can control the gateway of language: your lips. What you SAY. Especially if your words are positively emotionalized. Or, you can write out your emotions…this is a powerful and positive thing to do. Whether “blogging” or writing dramatic work, the capacity to express your sense of what human beings are, and what the world is, is massively useful. This is the entire thrust of the REVOLUTIONARY WRITING class–to turn your emotions into communication.
- The third means of controlling emotions is HOW YOU USE YOUR BODY. There is a posture of depression. A facial expression of anger. A breathing pattern for fear. The emotions cause the physical change. But, and this is of CRITICAL importance…THE PHYSICAL CHANGES ALSO CAUSE THE EMOTIONS. It is a feedback loop, and information can enter from either end of the loop. The way you breathe, the tension in your body, and your posture are the three to look at most closely: breath, motion, structure. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=En6dFmtjFnI
- You have to CONSCIOUSLY INTERRUPT the negative pattern, because it is a spiral: negative emotions create physical change into defeat/despair/rage posture and breathing, leading to deeper trigger of the sympathetic nervous system, creating a “strain tunnel” as the organism focuses down for combat or flight. If there is nothing to fight and no where to run, depression kicks in: why care when there is no way out, right? So you lose access to the very problem-solving apparatus that will help you. The best way to do this is The Morning Ritual and the “Five Minute Miracle”–every morning, you move, focus, and emote positively. Five times a day you breathe and focus positively, once every three hours.
- Faith and Gratitude are the antidotes for fear and anger. The instant you focus on the blessings in your life, you are switching on your resources. The instant you remember all the times you thought all was lost, and you came out of it all right…or look at history and realize that in almost every election people said “the world will end if we lose” and in almost every instance, they were simply wrong, that we can have faith that there will be a tomorrow…gratitude and faith lead you out of the “strain tunnel” and toward the light.
- It is true that there are some circumstances we don’t come back from. Occasionally, it IS the end. It still behooves you to be as positive as you can be, for multiple reasons: if there is any hope at all, you will need all your resources to take care of yourself and your loved ones (principles One and Two), and to see the answers that exist. Only those who keep their heads will be able to find those answers. And if there IS no hope, then the only thing it makes sense to do is to nurture and care for those you love, and for yourself, during the moments of life you have left. PANIC AND FEAR ONLY SERVE A PURPOSE IF YOU CAN USE THE EMOTIONAL ENERGY TO TAKE ACTION.
Tools like meditation, journaling, hugs, helping others, giving yourself a time limit to mourn and thrash…all of these can help. A combination of the Morning Ritual and Five Minute Miracle can be fabulous. Do NOT fall prey to the dieter’s fallacy: the sense that if you can’t lose all that weight in a month, nothing is happening. If it took thirty years to get fat, if you can’t lose that weight rapidly, if you fall off the wagon, if you hit a plateau nothing is happening, or you are a failure.
The same thing is true of preventing stress from becoming strain (stress is the pressure you are under. Strain is the degree to which it warps and distorts body or perceptions. STRAIN is what you work to avoid.) If you have developed a lifetime habit of denial, internalized emotions, poor breathing and movement, inability to focus, being controlled by your “inner voices”…if you have no meditation practice, physical practice (under a teacher who can stand outside and correct you. “Sensory motor amnesia” can lead us to truly ghastly misperceptions of our own capacities and behaviors), or goals that motivate you even when you are “feeling down”…then you CANNOT expect a single hour or day of work to suddenly correct this.
I can tell you that the more important the change, and the greater the resistance, the smarter it would be to increase the “Five Minute Miracle” to sixty seconds EVERY HOUR ON THE HOUR, or five minutes per session. “Five Minutes” is the minimum that will actually give you the effect, but it takes time. I say give it thirty days. Again, want faster results? Do it more often, seek out a yoga or Tai Chi teacher to help you learn how to breathe properly, integrate breathing into aerobic exercise, and so on.
There are other things to be done. The smartest thing would be to choose three and do them ALL. Hit every level of your being: body, emotions, mind. Give yourself time: Thirty Days. If you HAVE to shift faster then do more, and more intensely.
We’ll be doing a LIFEWRITING radio show this Saturday November 12th at 11am pst to work on these things.
Phone Number: (724) 444-7444.
Call ID: 137903.
Please join us. It will be a place of faith, healing, and purpose.