You are leaving work; walking down the street, sitting on the subway, wherever. Your mind is racing a mile a minute. You are recounting all of the different things that happened that day; thinking about ways in which you could have written that email better, wondering why this person didn’t respond, remembering all of the people you didn’t respond to, planning your next steps, whatever. As if all of the relentless thoughts aren’t unsettling enough, your feelings keep barging in with them! In a matter of minutes you feel frustrated with yourself, angry at him, guilty for that, embarrassed for this, and worried about that, and you aren’t even home yet! So there you are, stuck with just you, but being bombarded with how many thoughts and feelings simultaneously?
How to deal?
The truth is that we have very little control over our thoughts and feelings. If we did have control, we would be able to simply turn them off whenever we want to.
Most people have gotten really good at finding ways to control their inner “chaos” temporarily. They may go the gym, grab a drink (or three), talk to a friend, eat, or watch TV etc. You get the point. People tend to find external sources to soothe what is going on within. (*Note: this is also called avoidance.) Since society has normalized this approach, it is rarely questioned, and is continuously utilized, although it is only temporarily “helpful”.
Unfortunately, the idea of actually addressing the thoughts and feelings directly is almost taboo. Why? Because we are all trying to play like it isn’t happening to us. We are all so desperately trying to appear in control of our lives that we have trouble admitting that we are being bombarded by uncomfortable thoughts and feelings all day long.
But there is good news.
First off, we can find comfort in knowing that we are human; and it’s happening to everyone. So rest assured. Secondly, we can actually develop the ability to clear our minds, relax our bodies and breathe deeply; without depending on external sources. Now why would we want to do that, if we can just turn on the TV instead? Because similar to developing unhealthy eating habits, this avoidance behavior packs on the pounds of emotional baggage, and if we continue at this rate, those 5 pounds will turn to 50.
Here are some tips to lessen your “emotional baggage:”
- Allocate time to sit quietly with yourself and lovingly notice what is happening inside you without judgment (every day)
- Be lovingly interested to see all of the unsolicited thoughts and feelings that arise
- Try not to focus on trying to answer the theoretical questions in your head, focus on lovingly acknowledging and accepting the fact that the question has arisen, let it pass by as quickly as it came
- Breathe deeply, and develop strategies to bring yourself to the present moment
- If you are really committed to the process you can also work towards understanding the origins of the reoccurring thoughts and feelings that arise within