When you’ve had a tough day, a brutal day, a day you’d just as soon forget, do you long for all your favorite comfort foods?
All the chocolate?
All the chardonnay?
All the blessed oblivion you can find?
Whatever it takes to calm the inner tension, anxiety and turmoil?
When you’re craving relief…
Does your brain is spin out thoughts that begin with words like these?
I need something, anything, just to take the edge off…
I’ve got to calm down…
All this stress is killing me…
I need to relax…
When do I get to…
When is it my turn to…
I’ve had it with…
What’s wrong with…
I shouldn’t have to put up with…
It’s not fair that…
What are your “go-to’s” to distract you from your unhappiness?
- Drugs-prescription or street
- Screen time
- Compulsive exercising
Whenever you make the choice to buffer with activities or substances to numb your reality and escape fully experiencing your emotional life, you are probably creating other unwanted results.
- Overeating that leads to weight gain or disordered eating
- Over drinking/drugging that leads to behavior you’d like to forget ever happened or to feeling lousy and lost the next day
- Spending more money than you can afford, draining your bank account, preventing you from achieving other goals you’d like to prioritize
- Exercising even when you don’t have the time or should be investing the time in other interests, goals or commitments
These buffering behaviors often add another layer of suffering to the negative feelings that are already rumbling.
Additional shame, anxiety, frustration, anger and disappointment intensify and worsen the original feelings you’re trying to avoid..
These added layers of feelings create a net-negative consequence. They make everything worse.
Net-negative consequences compound your suffering.
You’re actually causing yourself more pain and discomfort because of the extra effort you exert to protect yourself from it.
You can only mask negative emotions temporarily.
Resistance causes persistence.
When negative thoughts and feelings envelop you, escaping or avoiding them as quickly as possible often seems like your best next step.
You just don’t have the time to indulge or wallow. You’ve got business to take of. Life must go on.
You’ve got things to do and places to go!
But, here’s the crazy irony: resisting negative emotions causes them to linger longer and rebound stronger.
A negative emotion will only begin to dissipate when you ALLOW yourself to recognize and feel it.
Lean into it. Sit or lie down with the intention of describing and processing it.
Close your eyes if that feels comfortable to you.
- Pick one negative emotion at a time to describe and process.
- Acknowledge and name it: Now I’m feeling______________.
- Identify where in your body you’re feeling it: in your stomach, your chest, your throat, your head, your hands, your shoulders.
- Describe its features:
- What color is it?
- How opaque or sheer, dense or light?
- What kind of movement pattern does it make: waves, pounding, jittery, fluttering, twisting, gripping, knotting?
- What kind of sounds: a roar, a whisper, a scream, a pleading?
- ALLOW it to rest within you. Remind yourself that allowing is a very important part of the process necessary for it to dissipate.
- Breathe naturally
If you want to engage in an activity other than one you would automatically turn toward to buffer away the emotion, try it. As long as it doesn’t produce a net negative consequence.
Take a walk, read, listen to soothing music, play with your pet, have a conversation with a friend. Engage in a pleasurable self-care activity or ritual.
Do a thought download so you can see what you’re thinking that’s fueling the negative feelings.
What negative feelings might you be trying to escape or avoid?
Do you use one of the net-negative buffers I described above?
Are you ready to stop overeating, over drinking, “overing” any activity in your life which you’re engaging in to escape feeling the original negative emotion?
Reach out to me right now for help in identifying the patterns and putting a stop to them once and for all.