Why are we so scared of our feelings?

Anxiety, Depression, Uncategorized, Worry

scared

I’ve come to a pretty big realisation recently and it’s changed the relationship I have with my feelings. I used to be extremely sensitive to how I felt, preferring to feel balanced at all times. This is probably because more often than not I was living my life on an emotional rollercoaster. Those of you who know me personally will know that I am the (self)designated ‘bag watcher’ at Alton Towers! The way it looked to me was that I was a victim of unwanted feelings which were inflicted upon me without my permission, so I fought against them and sought to manage them at all costs.

In fact, just today at 11:35am I was suddenly overwhelmed by the feeling that I might cry. Now, if that had happened even 6 months ago, I’d have been pretty worried. In fact, here’s how it would have gone…

I feel like I might cry.
I’m at work and I’m close to tears. That’s not acceptable.
I am supposed to be more together than this, there must be something wrong with me.
This always happens, I am so unstable! Up and down, it’s like I’m not in control at all.
I actually am out of control, my emotions are all over the place and now I feel really low and this isn’t nice.
I don’t like feeling like this, I need to pull myself together.
What was it that made me feel so emotional? There has to a be a reason. It was probably because I shouted at child number 2 this morning and now I feel upset about it.
Or maybe it’s because I didn’t get enough sleep last night? I need to get to bed early tonight…
…and so the internal dialogue went on. And on. And on.

Let me show you how it played out today.

I feel like a might cry.
Huh. This is rubbish. I don’t like feeling like this.
Internal weather: Stormy

It’ll pass.

And it did. By around 2:00pm I had gone in and out of my sad place around 20 times and I was more or less on the other side of it.

The difference between then and now is that 6 months ago, my emotion scared me. It made me feel off-balance and like something was wrong, like I was wrong or doing something wrong. I heaped a whole lot of judgement on it with thoughts like ‘I shouldn’t feel this way’ and ‘That’s not normal. I need help’. I questioned what could have caused it, because if there was a reason, it seemed less scary.

Whereas today, I didn’t care. When the weather changes, we don’t ask why. We just accept it, safe in the knowledge that it will change again. It doesn’t mean we have to like it. Often the weather can make us miserable, but we don’t fight against it. We know we can’t control it so we don’t even try and 100% of the time the storm clouds pass. Just like the weather, our feelings are out of our control and our only job is to experience them. Nothing more.

What if we understood that we are fully equipped to deal with the full spectrum of emotions that we could possibly experience? Our minds are robust and ready to deal with anything, no matter how powerful or unpleasant the emotion. We carry on through low thoughts, anxious thoughts and grief. We don’t always like what we feel, but that’s OK. Our feelings pass on their own. It’s how we’re designed. They can’t break us. Plus, has anyone ever managed to successfully change the weather?

Our brains are designed to weather any storm. What if we were to trust them to do just that? Would that change the relationship you have with your feelings?

Robyn

How do I stop feeling low?

Depression

low

Do you ever have days when everything looks absolutely bleak? You feel flat and your enthusiasm for life vanishes. I 100% believe that on days like those, I could win the lottery and still not be able to raise a smile. Isn’t that miserable? Maybe you can relate to this, because after all, we’re all human.

Feeling low can be even worse when you look around yourself and see things you should be happy about.

‘I have such great friends, I should be more grateful.’

‘I have the support of a loving family. I should be happier than this.’

‘I have a roof over my head and some money in the bank. I should feel lucky.’

The word ‘should’ has a lot to answer for. It can strike you down when you least expect it, sucking away joy in an instant. That is, unless you see it for what it is.

It’s just a thought.

But aren’t our thoughts important?

The short answer is they can be, but only if you want them to be. Although you can’t control which thoughts pop into your brain, you can place as much or as little importance on a thought as you like. Personally, I tend to ignore any that I don’t like the sound of because I know that another one will come along in a minute. It’s like flicking through a recipe book, looking for something nice to make for dinner. Nope. Nope. Nope. Ooooh, I like the sound of that. Nope. Nope. Nah. There are an infinite number of thoughts out there. Engage with the decent ones and let the low quality ones pass on by.

Here are a couple of important things to remember;

Your mood will influence the quality of your thoughts.

When we are feeling low, the quality of our thoughts takes a nose dive. This is totally normal. Your only job in this situation is to be aware of what’s going on and take every single thought that comes into your head with a pinch of salt. Negative thoughts are not a true reflection of your life, they are only a reflection of your low mood. You can’t stop thoughts coming but you can ignore undesirable ones and wait for nicer ones to come along.

It’s not your job to get yourself out of a low mood.

We live in a truly amazing body that is connected to a truly amazing mind. Our mind was programmed from birth to reset itself when necessary, without our having to interfere. It’s taken care of for us, just like how we don’t have to remind ourselves to swallow or blink (which, by the way, I’m eternally grateful for!). A calm, peaceful mind is our default setting and when we get low, telling ourselves to ‘think positively’ does absolutely nothing but make us feel worse, because we cannot control our thoughts. You can’t think yourself out of a low mood, the only thing you can do is to wait for the reset. It will happen. Not always when you want it to, but at the appropriate moment. Remember, our mind is wise beyond our comprehension, it knows what we need and when. So, let your body do its job. Trust it. Nothing you think, or don’t think, do or don’t do is going to make it happen any quicker. Step away from the engine with the spanner! The trained mechanic is already working on it and doesn’t need your help. Unless you’re a trained mechanic. In that case, replace the word ‘engine’ with something you have no knowledge of and keep well back. Isn’t it a relief that it’s not our job? For a long time I took it on myself, frustrated when I wasn’t able to turn my frown upside-down, feeling like a failure. Adding more fuel to the fire. I’m so glad I know now that it was never my job in the first place.

It’s perfectly normal to feel low. It’s part of the human condition and without it, the highs wouldn’t be so sweet. Society tells us that we should feel happy all the time, that we should be grateful and remain positive at all costs. However, this isn’t reality. There’s a whole spectrum of emotions out there and it’s human nature and our right to feel every single one. When we feel low we’re not living our lives wrong. We are just living.

Robyn