How to avoid getting caught up in your feelings?

Around a month or so ago, an idea came to me that I found really useful.

The idea was that situations that emotionally charge us are a reminder to focus on ourselves. Instead of getting caught up in the moment, feeling bad or worrying, take some time to check in with yourself.

Perhaps you were involved in a situation that left you feeling upset. You could ‘go off’ at the other people involved, blame them or get annoyed at yourself.

You could also ask yourself ‘Why is this bothering me?’, ‘What can I do for myself to shift my mood?’ or ‘How can I take responsibility for the part I played in this?’.

Asking these questions assures you’re looking at the situation consciously, taking care of yourself and not focusing on other people.

Creating a container for change

I first heard about this idea from Maryam Hasnaa in a class she taught.

When a person dedicates themselves to a particular path, it more often than not requires significant change.

An example of this could be taking space from friends that like to have nights out often. You need space from this because in that environment you’re likely to drink which leaves you feeling unwell the next day and the time it takes to recover feels like a waste. You also might decide that you want to maintain a regular sleep pattern and night routine which you’re unlikely to be committed to when you get home at 2am. Lastly, when your path becomes clear you realise that the pub, bar or club where it’s noisy, crowded and you’re probably spending a lot of money isn’t an environment that supports you.

And so even though no longer engaging in nights out may show up as you taking space from certain people, it’s not so much about the people at all, it’s about you and what you need.

Another example is leaving your job. Let’s say you work a very full on and at times stressful job that requires a lot from you. When you’re committed to something, in order to focus on that, you don’t want unnecessary stress getting in the way. Perhaps at one point the stress was worth it for the money but now you’d rather earn less in a calmer environment. If your finances allow it, you might even take a break from working for a little while.

Both of these examples could be permanent or temporary changes. The point is that when you’re clear about your path shifting your life is mandatory.

I think if we could, we would turn inwards and away from certain responsibilities and obligations. But since that’s not possible we have to create a container where we can focus and commit whilst still engaging in certain aspects of life. And that container becomes sort of sacred which is why we can’t allow everything in our lives to remain.

And if you don’t know where to begin, ask yourself what you would and wouldn’t keep in your life if you could start over whilst still being able to maintain your basic needs (food, shelter etc).

Taking your own advice

It’s funny how you can dish it out but you can’t seem to take it.

When pondering on a situation occurring in your own life, you are likely to find that you have previously given advice on the very same topic. Furthermore, you were able to give that advice with ease.

And so you are likely to find yourself wondering why acting on something you’ve advised someone else to do is so difficult when it comes to your own life.

Maybe the difficult part isn’t the advice it’s actually taking the responsibility and be choosing to solve a problem instead of merely talking (or complaining) about it.

Knowing what you need

A useful skill to acquire is to know what you need in your off moments. But then to go one step further and honour those needs.

So often we get a feeling for what we should do but we push it aside and trudge on. We tell ourselves it’s inconvenient, we don’t want to offend people or we feel stuck with where we are or previous decisions we’ve made.

But when you ignore the feeling of knowing, there will always be consequences. Things like feeling uncomfortable, regret or frustration.

And often we put those feelings on the person or people we were with at the time. In those cases, it might feel easier to blame others because it relinquishes you of your responsibility.

However, perhaps next time the feeling of knowing what you need comes around you could try following it. Of course be polite or respectful of who you’re with but don’t forget the importance of taking care of yourself.

Making up for lost time

If you missed out on anything in your younger years you might hold the belief that it’s too late to do the things you wished you’d done.

But what if you do them now, what if you make a conscious effort to make up for lost time?

Granted with age comes responsibility, so taking out a few months to go backpacking around Asia might not be feasible, if you now have a full time job and a mortgage to pay but maybe you could do it for a week or two instead.

Sometimes it seems as though once we reach a particular age we have to ‘settle down’ and certain things are no longer available to us. But that’s just you restricting yourself. Just because you didn’t get to have as much fun growing up as you’d have liked doesn’t mean it’s too late.

The blame game

You don’t have to play, you can always opt out.

I used to be the sort of person who would blame other people for the misfortunes of my life. Not in an explicit way but I felt that I needed certain people in my life to change in order for me to feel better in life.

At the time I truly believed that it was because of ‘them’ that my life had gotten to be so dreadful .

It didn’t even occur to me back then that I was giving my power away, that by blaming others for the state of my life I was declaring that I was not in control.

But after doing some reading, reflecting and ruminating I realised that I’m the one in control of my life.

I also realised that sometimes we subconsciously reject the responsibility over ourselves and our lives and look to other people as ‘the bad guys’ who’ve ruined things for us.

It takes courage to decide to take responsibility and stop playing the blame game.

The problem with relying on someone else to change in order for you to be feel good is that the person may never change. By playing the blame game you just end up missing out and that’s no fun.