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The truth about "I can't help how I feel"

We humans donโ€™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 โ€“ you name it, someone is feeling it.

"๐‘ฐ ๐’„๐’‚๐’''๐’• ๐’‰๐’†๐’๐’‘ ๐’‰๐’๐’˜ ๐‘ฐ ๐’‡๐’†๐’†๐’" - ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’Ž๐’Š๐’”๐’•๐’‚๐’Œ๐’†๐’ ๐’ƒ๐’†๐’๐’Š๐’†๐’‡

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 โ€œI canโ€™t help how I feelโ€.

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 ๐’”๐’•๐’†๐’‘๐’” ๐’•๐’ ๐’•๐’“๐’Š๐’ˆ๐’ˆ๐’†๐’“ ๐’‘๐’๐’”๐’Š๐’•๐’Š๐’—๐’Š๐’•๐’š

When you feel stuck in unhappy emotions here is what you can do to trigger positivity:

1.๐‘ญ๐’๐’„๐’–๐’” ๐’š๐’๐’–๐’“ ๐’Ž๐’Š๐’๐’… ๐’๐’ ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’‘๐’“๐’†๐’”๐’†๐’๐’•:

One way to do this is to observe your hand. Describe it to yourself out loud in as much detail as possible. Your mind canโ€™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. ๐‘ป๐’‰๐’Š๐’๐’Œ ๐’๐’‡ 3 ๐’•๐’‰๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ๐’” ๐’š๐’๐’– ๐’‚๐’“๐’† ๐’ˆ๐’“๐’‚๐’•๐’†๐’‡๐’–๐’ ๐’‡๐’๐’“ ๐’Š๐’ ๐’•๐’‰๐’Š๐’” ๐’Ž๐’๐’Ž๐’†๐’๐’•: They donโ€™t have to be earth shattering things. They can be small things, as long as they are significant ๐’•๐’ ๐’š๐’๐’–.

In her work on Positive Psychology Dr. Barbara Fredrickson identified gratitude as one of the 10 triggers of positivity.

3. ๐‘ด๐’‚๐’Œ๐’† ๐’‚ ๐’๐’Š๐’”๐’• ๐’๐’‡ 3 ๐’•๐’‰๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ๐’” ๐’š๐’๐’– ๐’„๐’‚๐’ ๐’…๐’ ๐’“๐’Š๐’ˆ๐’‰๐’• ๐’๐’๐’˜ ๐’•๐’ ๐’ˆ๐’†๐’• ๐’š๐’๐’–๐’“ ๐’ƒ๐’๐’…๐’š ๐’Ž๐’๐’—๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ.

4. ๐‘ช๐’‰๐’๐’๐’”๐’† ๐’๐’๐’† ๐’‚๐’„๐’•๐’Š๐’—๐’Š๐’•๐’š ๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐‘ซ๐‘ถ ๐‘ฐ๐‘ป!

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 โ€“ 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.

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