Ugh… Today just seems to be one of those days. I can’t put my finger on it but it’s just one of those days. You know, you just wake up and seem a little irritable, just seem off, just seem like the world’s axis has been tilted. This happens every once in a while and though often not sure why I do know one thing… I have to take control of it. I now do this with a technique I call “mental gymnastics”: taking the thought processes in my head flipping them around, throwing them around, and putting them back on track. This wasn’t a skill that I always had, though. Depression and anxiety were things that were very real for me and could take over my mind before I even knew what happened. I felt like a victim to the circumstances around me. I feel like a victim to the crazy uncontrollable thoughts in my mind. I felt a victim to circumstances. I felt a victim to life.
I have since learned that I don’t need to be a victim to anything! I have since learned that I am the one responsible for my own happiness. I have since learned that I can make decisions on what thoughts I allow to play in the playground of my mind unchaperoned! I may not be able to control the thoughts that travel through my head but I don’t have to invite them in to sit down for tea. I am not responsible for the thoughts that pop into my head but I am responsible for how long I allow them to hang out and play.
And this is where the mental gymnastics comes in. It’s all about perspective. It’s about re-positioning myself to look at my circumstances in a different light, through a different lens, from a different angle. You’ve probably heard that “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade!“ Things happen in life that we are not responsible for, that is very true! And during this time of heightened anxiety and stress we may be dealing with during the COVID-19 pandemic it is the perfect opportunity to practice some new strategies. Besides, what do you have to lose by trying something new? Maybe losing some anxiety? Or decreasing stress? A decrease in self-condemnation? There is a therapy technique called rational emotive behavior therapy that takes the approach that our thoughts influence our emotions which then influence our behaviors. As if rampant thoughts running amok are not overwhelming enough, a roller coaster of emotions can seem almost unbearable! And while in a state of emotional upheaval many of us do dumb things. We should never take a severe permanent approach to solving a temporary problem. Take a breath, think about what you are thinking, think about what you are feeling, and think about what you are doing…before doing it.
How have regulating your thoughts and emotions been difficult during this time of quarantine and social distancing? How have hastily done something only to realize later that your thinking and feeling may have been off-track? What is one thing you can do NOW to make a difference in how you handle intense emotions?