A passion of mine

by Elizabeth on December 13, 2012

Being lucky enough to share lunch with friends again today, we got onto a topic I have learned a lot about in the past year or so. It heavily affected my life in a negative way for quite a while, simply because I had no idea how to go about it skillfully. I have been wanting to tell people about it for some time now, just because I feel like so many people are in the same boat, and it’s a BIG PART OF LIFE.

I would venture to say that every human on the face of this planet experiences charged, uncomfortable thoughts and feelings on a regular basis. Maybe it’s anxiety, fear, sadness; maybe it’s thoughts such as I’ll never be good enough or I’m not studying enough to make good grades or I’ll never get the job I want. Let’s face it, these thoughts and feelings aren’t fun, and up until now, I always tried to get rid of my anxiety or sadness because, DUH,  I don’t like feeling anxious or sad. I would stuff them down and refuse to feel them, I would exercise out of compulsion, I turned to alcohol more times than I’m proud of… all to get away from the human experience of emotions. I had a friend point out to me that sadly, this wasn’t going to work. In fact, I was adding to my grief by refusing to let my emotions be whatever they are.

I now know that emotions exist for valid reasons. There’s a reason you have anxiety over tests… it’s motivation to study. There’s also a reason for anger… maybe someone has violated a boundary. It’s actually very respectful to oneself to get angry in that case. Emotions DO become a problem when we allow them to encompass us. We feel like we are the anxiety or we are the sadness and that’s all.

This used to be my experience with emotions. If I felt anxious, sad, angry, fearful etc., it was the ONLY thing I could think about or feel. It would at times become paralyzing. Brain research shows that when a human is having this experience it is because they are only operating from the back brain (the primitive, fight or flight, instinctual part of the brain.) At times this is helpful. Clearly, if you are being attacked or chased, you don’t want to think about several different options you have in that moment. You just need to run.

Something I have been learning about recently is how to diffuse from uncomfortable thoughts and emotions. Diffuse? What the heck does that mean? Simply put, diffusion is creating space between you and your thought or emotion. Let’s take anxiety. You’re having a ton of anxiety over your most important final coming up. To diffuse you would say, here I am, and there’s my anxiety, separate from me. Done. Space created. Now you have room to recognize other things that may be going on in your life and the anxiety is not so encompassing. You’re probably excited about Christmas break coming up, so you also have some excitement. Maybe you and your boyfriend are having a fight, so you have some anger and sadness. Maybe a friend just got engaged, so there’s also happiness and joy. Basically, you went from feeling super anxious and stuck to also noticing excitement, anger, sadness, happiness, and joy. You are less attached to that one emotional experience. It’s very possible to have an enormously intense emotion and be a perfectly calm, sane human being.

I know this is probably a lot to swallow for one night. And I could go on and on about this but I’m thinking this is enough and I’m going to break this lovely topic into two posts. Tomorrow we will talk about mindfulness… Now I know most of you won’t be able to sleep you are so excited. I invite you to use that experience as an opportunity to practice diffusion. I am separate from my excitement, it is not all encompassing (or maybe it is in this case.) Notice what ever else might be there too and proceed to go to sleep :-)

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 torontorunner December 13, 2012 at 9:15 pm

Ok. Amazing post. Seriously. Amazing. I REALLY needed this. I have definitely tried to not *feel* a lot of the stress/anxious/worry emotions over the course of a stressful couple of years..in the end, it hasn’t helped me at all to do this!

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2 Elizabeth December 14, 2012 at 9:33 am

Thank you! I can so relate! When I started practicing this I noticed a huge difference. I wasn’t so terrified and attached to uncomfortable emotions. Of course it’s a practice… I will never be perfect and sometimes I’m still in freak out mode. Even just knowing that I have this available to me though makes it more tolerable!

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3 Shana Clancy December 13, 2012 at 10:38 pm

I am gonna start praying for lunch with friends that share the same struggle and mindset. I am so happy you have that.

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4 Elizabeth December 14, 2012 at 9:34 am

I will pray that you get the comfort you need, also. Love you Shana!

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5 Sheila Richey December 20, 2012 at 10:55 pm

I am so proud of you for this lovely and informative blog. You are growing in ways that just make me want to shout!!!! I am especially pleased to see this entry. You and I have shared in private over the past months both of our “unproud” indulgenses (think that is mispelled…oops)! Drinking captured me when I was in my older twenties and early thirties. How I wished I had never participated, the biggest set back I believe one can participate with. It’s hard to understand that when the immediate relief is tricking you to believe you’ve found a cure to the worlds problems…haha! What a joke, it can be the catalyst to them biggest ones you will ever face if not handled with extreme caution. That is why my belief now – is total abstinense. It’s just to big of a risk. To much to lose and odds are defintely not in our favor.

Bottom line is I am so very proud to see you open your eyes to all of this. It brings me enormous joy to see your willingness to correct the paths of your family before you take those same journeys. Catching these habits early is going to play a huge huge huge role in the beautiful life that is before you. What an awesome and very brilliant way to love yourself and your own family forward. I am beaming with pride…..

You know I am always here for you. My nieces and nephews are so important to me – I love you all so much. God gave me the greatest gifts in each of you….

God bless you my sweet Ebis,

Aunt LaLA

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6 zoe April 1, 2013 at 5:59 pm

wow great post! i am bookmarking this one to come back to later!

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