Did you ever notice how certain emotions attract similar emotions and how quickly we can end up with a heavy heart? That when we feel sad or disappointed over one thing, we find ourselves scanning our range of experiences for other things that may make us or may have made us feel sad or disappointed? Before we know it, two days can go by and we find ourselves under the covers contemplating the ills of society and evaluating every interaction we’ve had in every one of our relationships!
I don’t necessarily consider emotions like anxiety and depression to be “negative” in the short term and I actually think they could be useful when we work through them, but when they open the gates to other thought patterns that don’t serve us well and we begin to feel defeated by them, we need to be mindful of what’s happening and how we can change our thoughts and feelings.
This time of year can be especially overwhelming and difficult to manage emotionally for so many reasons. I know it is for me. I’ve worked hard to develop a self care routine to keep me balanced but I get thrown off occasionally and find that I still need fresh insight into how I can make improvements.
I think the concept of minimalism can be useful to break the cycle of negative thought patterns and cumulative (unwanted) emotions. For example, I use the “one in, one out” rule with clothes and some home furnishing items to keep my home free of things I don’t need, find useful, or that don’t bring me joy. If I purchase a new pair of jeans, I get rid of an old pair.
What if we applied this practice to our emotions? If we find we are experiencing a feeling that we don’t need, find useful or that doesn’t bring us joy, we can notice it and then we can try to replace it with one that does.
It’s difficult not to feel the inhumanity in the world when watching even five minutes of the evening news. Rather than dwelling on this feeling, I’ve been focusing on connecting with people, being present when I do, and being as kind as possible.
I was in a very crowded store recently with long lines and as I was waiting to speak with someone from customer service, I noticed a woman pacing back and forth looking for an available cashier. At one point, she literally stomped her feet. Since the customer service rep was also ringing up people, I suggested to this woman that she could come over to my line because there was no one waiting behind me. She finally agreed and pushed her cart over to me.
Rather than feeling anger towards this woman at her impatience or intimidated by her behavior, I felt compassion for her. She looked frantic! I asked her if she was OK. She replied, “No, I don’t drive in the dark!” As I looked outside, I noticed the sun was setting and it was beginning to get dark.
This was so powerful since I immediately felt a connection to her instead of any type of judgement or fear. I don’t like to drive in the dark either. Unlike her, I wasn’t alone and my husband would be driving home.
I think positive emotions can be cumulative too and of course we would like to be open to a heart filled with kindness, compassion, gratitude and love!
So next time you find yourself experiencing feelings that you don’t need, find useful or that don’t bring you joy, invest in ones that do!
I hope you have found this post helpful. Please let me know what you think.
I’ve written many other posts about feelings and how I’m learning to manage mine. Here are a few: