Here is how to feel good.
Make sure you take your time to not feel good.
I know there is little joy in ‘feeling poorly’…
So please don’t tell me to smile if I walk into the supermarket to buy some more white vinegar and baking soda after a stormy night that scared my dog and made her relieve herself all over the carpet. I didn’t really want to take the ‘entrance-of-the-off-leash-beach scent’ home with me.
But, if my dog didn’t pee inside every now and then, would I be able to cheer her on with the same enthusiasm I have now, whenever she pees outside?
If things didn’t sometimes go wrong, would I be able to appreciate the days where everything just magically falls into place?
How would we know how good feeling good actually feels, if we didn’t also know the other side of the coin?
There are a few events in life that you just cannot feel good about. For some of them we are given room and time to grieve. They are dramatic and heartbreaking. We allow ourselves some time to feel.
There are so many other occasions when we need to give ourselves permission to feel. It may not be a strong feeling of grief that we need to feel but when there is a feeling lingering underneath the surface that is not positive, it is often our natural instinct to choose a distraction to make us feel good, instead of letting the negative come up. We are looking for the direct shortcut back to feeling fantastic, instead of going down the path of feeling upset for a short time before processing any negative emotion and returning to a positive state of mind.
I remember those long days sitting at my fancy inner-city desk job feeling something lingering. At the end of the day, after hours of doing a job that I never felt inspired to do, I did not want to go home to spend time alone to find out what it was.
I would choose to go out and have a few drinks with friends. It was the weekend, no time to be wasted on feeling anything other than excited!
While there is nothing wrong with Friday drinks; if we choose distraction over mindfulness too often, our emotions may end up buried too deep for us to access them freely.
How do you feel when you take away all distractions?
For me it became obvious that I was only attempting to distract myself when I woke up the next morning, checking in with how I felt. If what was lingering the night before was no longer bothering me, then maybe all I needed was a night out with friends.
During my era of the fancy desk job, that was rarely the case. I still hadn’t dealt with what was mine to deal with. While I was in that cycle of avoiding those emotions, I was making an impact on the people around me. Thinking of it now, I was not only wasting my time, delaying what I could not ignore in the end, but also everyone else’s.
“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”
― Jane Goodall
And while this is of course all part of the process, why not kickstart it if you can?
What I really needed then, and what I need now, every time that lingering happens, is not a quick fix, it is time spent alone meditating or exercising, or time spent with a friend or a therapist talking about what is bothering me.
It may not feel good because at the very essence of it, it feels terrible.
I feel sad. I feel angry. I feel abandoned. I feel disappointed. I feel not good enough.
Still, I must feel whatever is lingering in order to process it. In order to feel better.
Until I do so, I will be annoyed at every person cutting me off in traffic. I will be irritated with every person treating me poorly.
I am likely to respond to anyone approaching me angrily with more anger.
Every stress or negativity brought to me from the outside only adds to what negativity I am already feeling under the surface.
If someone puts pressure on me, the first thing that will surface is very likely to be that exact emotion I failed to deal with earlier. it will be intensified by misplaced anger or sadness. Quite often, if it is someone I love who puts that pressure on me, I might even feel cornered and say something hurtful to them that I later come to regret.
Things may not escalate every single time but there is an easy way to avoid adding more misplaced anger to this world.
Feel your anger when it comes up. Just feel it. Sit with it.
Feel your sadness when it is creeping up. Don’t be embarrassed. Don’t let it take over your life. Don’t let it turn into hopelessness. Just sit with your sadness. Don’t let it be your enemy.
Think about it this way, if you choose to deal with your emotions, you stay in control. If you try to ignore and bury your emotions, they control when and how to influence you in the future.