Help! I’m Melting!: When Rotten Moods Won’t Go Away

I’ve been down lately.  Despite all of the wonderful things in my life, I’ve been like a dog sniffing out a mole in the ground…determined to find and focus on the things that aren’t going well.  Kind of sad, huh?

Why?  BECAUSE IT’S A HABIT!  For me, seeing the world as a glass that is half empty is how I spent most of my years leading up to now.  Despite having many years of doing the opposite; being a positive person, I can and do fall back into my old familiar pessimistic ways.

Only now when I do it I get the added satisfaction of BEATING MYSELF UP FOR NOT BE MORE POSITIVE!!!!  Arggggg.

So the challenge for all of us who wake up in the pits (despite wanting to be happy) is finding a way to ride the relentless wave of anxiety or sadness or anger or what ever emotion that grabs you by the nape of the neck and puts a metaphorical knife at your jugular and spits in your ear “Do everything I say and you won’t get hurt.”   The task is how to “go limp” and not fight so hard to “stay happy.”

Now that may sound backwards if not blasphemous.  As Barney Fife asked Andy Taylor on the Andy Griffith Show, “Andy, how do you fight fire?  With fire, of course!”  But I’m not so sure that works in this case.  Is there anything more annoying than a really cheerful person when you are feeling down in the dumps?  Am I the only person who wants to stick a fork in between the eyes of the person who says “Just think happy thoughts and all will be well.”  There are sometimes when I am far more the Wicked Witch of the West than Glinda the Good Witch and would not shed a tear if her bubble burst and she tumbled down to squish a few munchkins.

Fortunately, this evil, crappy, quite disturbing side of me does not exist most of the time but what do you do when you feel…well…crappy.

I see nothing wrong with trying to cheer yourself up.  Sing a happy song, follow some yellow-bricks but if it ain’t workin, it ain’t workin.

That’s when you have to accept that you are in the pits and you might be there for a while.  And when I say a while I’m thinking a few hours, a few days, maybe even a week.  (Note:  if you’re there much longer I recommend seeking some outside help.  No shame in that.)

But when you’ve been bitten in the butt by the dumps and grumps just stop.  Yep, stop and say…”I feel Crappy”.  Or “I feel like S#it”.  Or “I don’t think anyone loves me”.  Or “I’m scared/angry/anxious/lonely/etc.”  Blah blah blah.  Just say it.  After all, it’s the truth right?

Only then, after you’ve admitted that you feel crappy can you even remotely begin to move toward happy.  At this point you can pull out your tool box of “cheerer-uppers” and see if any of them work.

The image I have is sitting before a screaming, waling, frustrated baby and one by one you hold up a toy and ask, “Looky at this one.  Does this make you happy?”

Like I said, I’ve recently had this experience.  For whatever reason I woke with anxiety.  A gigantic, menacing, too-big-to-look-around anxiety.  It was not sadness but worry.  I was worrying about everything and there seemed to be no distinction between which worries were little and which worries were big.  For example, I worried that my back patio needed to be swept off AND that I did not have a concrete 5 year business plan.  I was worrying about how I would feel when my oldest left for college (4 YEARS FROM NOW) and also that I had developing more wrinkles.  I was running around (in my mind) saying, “The sky is falling, the sky is falling.”

It was really getting out of hand.  So here is what I did.  The wise part of me sat me down and pulled out my box of tricks. “Cheri, looky here! Does this make you happy?”  After all I have been studying and teaching ways to break out of old mindsets, right.  I should have a few tricks up my sleeve.  (Note here:  Even the teachers get stuck.)

I began by remembering that when I’m in a swivet, what I believe to be the indisputable truth most often is NOT.  Let me say that again…what feels real is not.  This one is a real toughie because when you’re feeling it and believing all your anxieties are true, you get stuck.  You begin to think that the times where you were feeling good you must have been on drugs and living in an illusion.  You feel that this crazy time, is in fact the truth.  WRONG.

Next, I phoned some good friends and told them of my anxieties. I have given many of my friends a heads up that they may be called upon to ground me.  I’ve told them to be blunt and don’t spare my feelings.  In other words, they can say “You’re a nut.”  and I don’t get my feelings hurt.  My conversations with them help me discern which of my anxieties were factual and which was foolish talk.  Again, remember I still didn’t believe them, but it was helpful.

Then there was the breathing and the breathing and more breathing.  Once I really breathed deeply, I asked myself what was missing.  Was I too sluggish and needed movement?  Was I too much in my head and needed to come into my heart more and feel my way out of this?  Was I feeling ungrounded, unsupported and needed to remember that I was propped up?  Was I running around putting out fires and needed the nourishment of water?  Was I swimming in my emotions only and needed to take fiery action to jump start feeling better?

I determined that this time I was feeling unsupported.  I was feeling…and I love this word…untethered.  I was not tied on to something that was bigger than me.  Correction, I was not FEELING tied to something bigger than me.  I needed to be deliberate in how I grounded myself.

So  I ate meat, I planted flowers, I took several walks making sure I stepped in grass not just asphalt, I sat in the sun and drank it in, and lastly I made an account of what I knew for sure (all my little tethers that I was not really seeing and feeling). Then I slept for 10 hours.

I would love for there to be a time when I would rise out of bed full of positivity and possibly and never doubt for a second that all is well.  I believe that it’s possible.  But for now, there are days where that is just not my reality.  There are days where the best and most sane thing for me to do is to quit trying to swim up stream using up my precious energy.  Rather it’s best for me to turn face-up on my float, put my hands behind my neck, and ride the waves up and down, up and down.  Feeling the pains, rejoicing in the joys, feeling the pains, rejoicing in the joys.

Fighting our uncomfortable times only make them worse, only makes them last longer.  Sit down and decide what you CAN tie onto.  What do you know for sure? And begin there.

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