Emotions are running hot these days. And for me at least, each day feels a lot longer than a typical day. There’s a lot of external stimulation to think about, which in turn fuels our emotions. It can be so easy to shy away from the hard work of navigating our inner mental landscape and instead numb out with, well, you name it: overeating, over drinking, social media overload, 24/7 CNN, lack of exercise, excessive exercise, and so on. Doing so will not serve you, though. It really won’t.
A friend quipped last week that she was coming out of this either totally ripped or really overweight. Many of us can relate. It can be easy to let ourselves give in to extremes of one sort or another. Some of us have more time on our hands than ever. Many others have the opposite problem: working around the clock while trying to take care of kids and other family members too. On whichever end of the spectrum you fall, the temptation to somehow numb your feelings can be seemingly irresistible. But there is a better way.
One of the most important skills we can develop as humans is the ability to be present with whatever arises. This is the sin qua non of mindfulness, and it’s more important now than ever.
Strong emotions arise? Welcome to the human condition. Yes, there is more to think, worry, obsess and ruminate on these days. And our worries, fears and anxieties are, in fact, rooted in the reality of the current pandemic. But tuning out instead of tuning in will not help anything. It will stunt your own growth. It will make you less able to skillfully navigate the very real stressors in life. It will increase your stress and agitation in the long run, despite its illusory relief.
So how do you avoid the temptation to numb? Practice letting yourself observe what arises without reacting. Carve out some quiet time, even it simply lasts for one or two cycles of breath, to tap into what is happening inside you. What are the thoughts that are causing the emotions that are fueling impulsive and/or numbing actions? See if you can just witness.
You can ride the wave of your own emotions. You can. You are strong and you were built to be mindful and present. It’s your birthright. This too is simply part of the human condition.
AND: plan in advance, when you can tap into your intentions and your highest values, not when an urge strikes and you’re suddenly in fight or flight and you don’t know how you can suddenly see the bottom of the bag of chips. Schedule out meals and snacks if that is helpful. Decide how much you are going to drink before you sit down with a cocktail. Budget time for news, for social media scrolling, for all of the other temptations.
I’ll be deep-diving into the topic of developing more awareness and emotional resilience, especially now, in my new online group coaching program, the Blue Tree Tribe. Click here to get more info and to sign up.