It’s very easy for me to talk about the good things that I am constantly trying to improve on and implement.
Today I want to talk about the difficult stuff. Fragility- how vulnerable humans can be? How easy it is to do away with the positive emotions that require a lot of work to build and let them be overwhelmed by the negative emotions that are quick to take over. Our survival mechanism that has been built in us, ensures that we feel these negative emotions for our own benefit. This is how we survive and thrive in the world.
To give you some context, I took up some challenges to build new habits and compound on them, all was well until it wasn’t. One of the challenges was a combo of meditation and exercise twice a day for 90 days. I meditated and exercised at least once every day for the last 50 or so days. I have skipped the last 3 days and missed some meditation sessions and/or exercise combo that goes with them, so there goes the 90 days challenge as I broke continuity. It doesn’t sound that bad writing that yeah, I missed those 3 days, but when I talk about why I missed those 3 days, it may sound that I went through a slump. In those 3 days, my mind was occupied with anxiety, worries and cues for depression seemed to be returning. I was trying to suppress those emotions simultaneously, which is the worst thing to do when feeling such way.
” It’s good to express your emotions and it’s not good to suppress your emotions”.
This is a line I repeat often in some classes I have been holding. Yet, I was not exercising this myself. That said, I don’t mean that you should scream when you’re angry or eat sugary foods when craving food. Good and wanted emotions are good to express and bad and unwanted emotions should be managed and controlled. The 3 days I skipped on all the little things I do to win the day and ingrain the process fell apart. In those 3 days, I felt a lot of other emotions too; self-doubts, feelings of being ungrateful, feelings of burn-out because I may be trying to take on too many tasks, combined with some concerns for my well-being and health and thinking how this may impact me. All of this to me, highlights how fragile and vulnerable I can be at times and, how easy it can be to get derailed. I can go into much deeper details and how my mind works but that may not necessarily be how your mind works. If you have through experiences learnt the cues for anxiety and depression, if you have learnt through reflection how to overcome, if you have learnt to not suppress emotions, rather allow yourself to feel the emotions and then overriding it with your cognitions and actions to stop these cues from returning. This is how perhaps; I think I have been able to pick myself up through slumps and periods of low mood and energy. To re-centre myself, I have to take a step back and start again at the causes and resolving those causes. The causes and cues of these negative feelings and slumps can be rectified through addressing the cause and/or reinforcing the actions that will subside these emotions and bring back the positivity and process back in sight.
3 days of slump may have seemed like a huge setback to me in my head and because of the overwhelming feelings I felt in those 3 days. What helped me is being able to detach myself from’ my Self’ and observe myself objectively. I know that I can never do this with full objectivity but what helps me is, talking about myself in 3rd person as if I am not me and am just looking at my behaviour/actions because that’s what’s visible outwardly, I then observe my emotions and try see how they are affecting my thoughts and behaviours. Wherever there is a disconnect and wherever there is a causal reaction, those areas identified then need to be rectified. It may all sound a bit fancy because of how I might be explaining things, to give an example and make a relation between emotions, thoughts, and behaviours. Consider this, which in my case, is one of the cues for depression and anxiety returning. What I want to do is wake up and carry on with my daily routine but instead, I lay about in bed. In not getting up off the bed, I start feeling lazy, this then brings feelings of being unproductive and uselessness, I reinforce these feelings through my actions of remaining lazy. The actions reinforce the thoughts in my mind that yes, the feelings and behaviours confirm that I am actually lazy, unproductive, and useless, the thoughts then turn to rumination. Rumination is a cue for depression returning. It’s not a simple process for me, thoughts, behaviours and emotions either reinforce each other or often there is a disconnect, when my feelings and thoughts lag the actions/behaviours. Sometimes it is my actions that lag the emotions. What I am simply saying is, yeah, it’s complex to explain it. Which shows how fragile and vulnerable I can be.
Once we are in the fragile and vulnerable state, our lower self, survival instincts, survival mechanism overtake our rational thinking and rational behaviour and we fall into old habits which may also be a precursor for anxiety and depression. We may feel afraid, we may become distrustful of others and/or ourselves. We may start eating unhealthy foods/ binge eat/ consume high sugar foods. We oversleep, we may lose our appetite, we may become disengaged with our surroundings and disconnected with those close to us.
Being able to reflect while going through this can be really helpful, as it can help you get back on track. I am a big believer in dreams and what shape they take in our sleep. If we try connecting to our unconscious and subconscious minds and what they are trying to tell us, we can recognise the areas where we have to give attention. I am not going to delve into interpretation of dreams. I am not an expert in the area, I feel that I am well connected with how my dreams are shaped and my ability to influence my own dreams in my sleep. Anyhow, back to the topic at hand. Reflection, allowing yourself time to feel emotions, accepting them is a good way to address the slump. Self-awareness and recognising early on the shift in your routines, behaviour and emotions is a great tool to possess too. Remembering this one line, that no soul is burdened beyond what it can bear helps me a lot. It helps me reinforce the confidence and grants me persistence and wisdom to keep working towards my goals and visions. The ability to implement even in small ways, this is the way to start working on your dreams and goals. Wishful thinking and having great ideas lead to get rich quick schemes and hoping for overnight success if you lack the courage to pursue them knowing and dealing with periods of setbacks. In modern age, our brains are more prone to instant gratification because of the impact of the social media, environment, constant bombardment of advertisements and reality TV shows.
Most of all knowing yourself and your ability to re-centre when overwhelmed is what can help you overcome setbacks. In all honesty I want to add that I don’t think I know myself well. It’s an ongoing process that perhaps never ends till you’re dead.
p.s. I do not suffer from clinical depression. What I talk about in this blog is the feelings of depression that people may feel in different stages of their lives. This is not an expert advice, just moments of self-reflection. I really wrote this to allow myself to feel all emotions and be able to reflect on them. It also helped me overcome the slump which in the moment was overwhelming. Keep a note of this when reading it. Thank you!