Cumulative Emotions

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!

cumulative emotions3

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:

https://beallthere.net/2014/02/22/the-power-of-positive-thinking/

https://beallthere.net/2014/12/06/feeling-gray/

https://beallthere.net/2015/08/22/funkytown-just-passing-through

cumulative emotions2.jpg

 

S.A.D.

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“TO BE HOPEFUL in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.
And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”

― Howard Zinn

This is a difficult time of year for many, including myself. Although each year seems to get a little bit easier, I still need some reminders to take it one day at a time, and to have self compassion. I thought you might need a gentle reminder too.

Below are some links to a few posts from past years that might be helpful. I wrote them when I was feeling low during the winter months. I hope that by reading them you feel me reaching out and giving you a nice big hug.

I attended a class today on how to keep mindfulness in our everyday lives.  I was so excited when I signed up months ago, but as this day fast approached, I felt that the timing wasn’t right. In fact, it couldn’t have been worse, since it’s the most hectic time of year with my work schedule. So much to do, how can I afford the time away from my work responsibilities?

It turned out that the class came at exactly the right time and it was just what I needed! The community and connections filled me up. It was in this class that my instructor read this quote:

“The future is an infinite succession of presents.”

Keep it moving in even the smallest of ways and we’ll get “there,” whatever and wherever that is for you. We got this!

Here are those links:

https://beallthere.net/2014/02/22/the-power-of-positive-thinking/

https://beallthere.net/2014/12/06/feeling-gray/

https://beallthere.net/2015/08/22/funkytown-just-passing-through

If you just have time to read one, the last one is one of my favorites!

 

 

The Power of Positive Thinking

Polar Vortex

Polar Vortex

I’ve been told I’m a positive, glass -is- half- full kind of person, but even I’m having a difficult time maintaining a cheerful outlook with this winter’s weather. I love my summers! I am a teacher, so I have a long summer vacation and enjoy gardening, hiking, sitting on my porch, and the sunny, mild temperatures.  Being outside in nature and spending time with cherished family and friends rejuvenates me. I’ve had such full summers that my experiences  have seemed to carry me through my typical winter doldrums where I can be susceptible to SAD (seasonal affective disorder), UP UNTIL NOW.

I recently swiped through the pictures on my phone and was reminded of the wonderful trips taken this past summer and even into the winter break.  I went to concerts, to big cities, to The Blue Ridge Mountains, to Montreal, to Florida, and of course took many day trips to some really cool places right here in The Hudson Valley, like Bear Mountain and The Warwick Valley Winery. I was also reminded of some great, great hiking excursions and time just sitting on my porch, swimming in my pool and tending to my garden. My fig tree even produced a few figs this summer!  Most of all, throughout the summer, fall, and the holiday season, I’ve spent meaningful time with my family and my friends, near and far. We’ve traveled together, shopped together, shared intimate meals, BBQ’s and large holiday gatherings.

Mother Earth Montreal Botanical Gardens

Mother Earth
Montreal Botanical Gardens

All of this reminiscing turned out to be a good thing! I realized that, while it may feel like a really long winter, it’s really only since January that I haven’t been as active and social that I’d like to be (and that I NEED to be). With March right around the corner, I’m coming out of hibernation soon!

After the Rain

After the Rain