The truth about "I can't help how I feel"
We humans don’t deal well with uncertainty, and yet life is steeped in uncertainly.
Looking at the daily news headlines one would think that there is absolutely nothing positive happening in our world. No wonder so many of us are feeling stressed, angry, frustrated – you name it, someone is feeling it.
"𝑰 𝒄𝒂𝒏''𝒕 𝒉𝒆𝒍𝒑 𝒉𝒐𝒘 𝑰 𝒇𝒆𝒆𝒍" - 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒎𝒊𝒔𝒕𝒂𝒌𝒆𝒏 𝒃𝒆𝒍𝒊𝒆𝒇
Our brains respond to uncertainty by going into stress mode. It is hard wired to over-react, as if our lives are in imminent danger of death or bodily harm, as if that ancient saber-toothed tiger is about to pounce.
Many of us feel it.
Many of us believe “I can’t help how I feel”.
But the truth is that, to a large degree, we humans DO have control over how we feel.
And that control is based on 3 simple truths:
how we feel is directly related to what we are thinking
we have control over what we think and, therefore, how we feel
a moment of mindfulness is all it takes to break the downward spiral of negative thinking and is, therefore, a powerful antidote to feeling down.
4 𝒔𝒕𝒆𝒑𝒔 𝒕𝒐 𝒕𝒓𝒊𝒈𝒈𝒆𝒓 𝒑𝒐𝒔𝒊𝒕𝒊𝒗𝒊𝒕𝒚
When you feel stuck in unhappy emotions here is what you can do to trigger positivity:
1.𝑭𝒐𝒄𝒖𝒔 𝒚𝒐𝒖𝒓 𝒎𝒊𝒏𝒅 𝒐𝒏 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒑𝒓𝒆𝒔𝒆𝒏𝒕:
One way to do this is to observe your hand. Describe it to yourself out loud in as much detail as possible. Your mind can’t focus on 2 things at once. As you describe your hand out loud, you are silencing the negative tapes playing in your head.
2. 𝑻𝒉𝒊𝒏𝒌 𝒐𝒇 3 𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒏𝒈𝒔 𝒚𝒐𝒖 𝒂𝒓𝒆 𝒈𝒓𝒂𝒕𝒆𝒇𝒖𝒍 𝒇𝒐𝒓 𝒊𝒏 𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒔 𝒎𝒐𝒎𝒆𝒏𝒕: They don’t have to be earth shattering things. They can be small things, as long as they are significant 𝒕𝒐 𝒚𝒐𝒖.
In her work on Positive Psychology Dr. Barbara Fredrickson identified gratitude as one of the 10 triggers of positivity.
3. 𝑴𝒂𝒌𝒆 𝒂 𝒍𝒊𝒔𝒕 𝒐𝒇 3 𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒏𝒈𝒔 𝒚𝒐𝒖 𝒄𝒂𝒏 𝒅𝒐 𝒓𝒊𝒈𝒉𝒕 𝒏𝒐𝒘 𝒕𝒐 𝒈𝒆𝒕 𝒚𝒐𝒖𝒓 𝒃𝒐𝒅𝒚 𝒎𝒐𝒗𝒊𝒏𝒈.
4. 𝑪𝒉𝒐𝒐𝒔𝒆 𝒐𝒏𝒆 𝒂𝒄𝒕𝒊𝒗𝒊𝒕𝒚 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝑫𝑶 𝑰𝑻!
As you move, think about the things you are grateful for. Movement together with positive thoughts signals your brain that you are okay, that it can turn off the stress hormones and turn on the hormones associated with calm.
All it takes is as little as 5 minutes of movement.
If physical activity is truly not practical for you, deep breathing can be extremely effective – breathe in for a count of 4, hold your breadth for a count of 4, breathe out for a count of 4 and hold your breadth for a count of 4. Repeat continuously for 5 minutes.
This strategy is something we can use in the moment to dampen negativity and trigger positive emotions. It is a Band-Aid, albeit an especially useful one. The breathing pattern I described is one that is commonly used by Special Forces personnel to stay calm during a mission. If it works for them in their high stress missions, it is worth a try for the rest of us.
Next time you are overcome by the feeling "I can't help how I feel", I challenge you to go through these 4 steps. If you put in the time, you too will discover that you DO have control over your thoughts and, as a result, you absolute CAN choose how you feel.
If you are stuck in the belief "I can't help how I feel", let's chat. At the end of our time together you will have clarity around what you need to do to take control of how you feel and, more importantly, start moving towards the life you really want.
Book your complimentary 15 minute consultation HERE.