April 17, 2010

being okay with not being okay

I am not always happy. Sometimes I am anxious or stressed. Unhappy, annoyed, and cranky are also in my repertoire of emotional states.
When I am in a 'good' state, I am happy to just be. I don't spend a lot of time thinking about it.
However, I have noticed that when I am in a 'bad' emotional state - defined as any of the ones mentioned above, plus a few others - I do spend time thinking about it.  Mostly I am berating myself for it.  Asking why I am spending time being cranky/unhappy/annoyed, what could I possibly have to complain about.  I often spend time trying to 'snap' myself out of it.  Or worrying about the effect my emotions might have on the others in my life.
Does this sound familiar to anyone?
What is the outcome?  How successful is this approach at shaking the state of mind?  Not very.
I have recently discovered something that does make a difference.  Just letting myself be with it.  This week, for example, I have felt anxious.  I have many friends who work for an organization that has been having to lay off employees and another round of this just occurred.  They are public servants, they work hard to contribute to make the world a better place, and they are going through a tough time.
I noticed my anxiety.  I spent a fair bit of time trying to not be anxious.  After all, me being anxious doesn't help anyone.
Then I tried something different.  I just let myself be anxious.
The first thing I noticed was relief.  It was okay; I could just be with how I was feeling.  Then I noticed, after a bit, that it started to lift, dissipate.  In a short time, I felt a great deal lighter.  Calm.
It turns out the best way through it is to just be with it.

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