It can be really challenging after a period of feeling on top of things to wake up one morning and suddenly not feel good.
Why am I feeling like this?!
Sometimes there is a good reason that we are feeling a bit anxious about something or maybe a particular event has caused a low mood. But there are other times when we wake up and feel bad and we just can’t identify why.
Our brains then tend to go into overdrive trying to work out what’s wrong. They are looking to solve, fix, change how we are feeling because we really don’t want to feel like this!!
It happens to everyone
Well guess what? This happens to everyone sometimes and we don’t always know the reason why. It could be one of a number of things that we can’t quite pinpoint – hormonal changes for example – and in these circumstances, desperately searching for an answer to try to fix what is wrong really doesn’t work.
We have a fantastic ability as humans to look at a problem and find a solution for it. This is why we are the apex predator without being the strongest or fastest and not having sharp teeth or claws. But when it comes to our internal state, this “fixing mode” doesn’t work in the same way. And we get very stuck.
We don’t want to feel bad, so we try and push away our difficult feelings. We take aversive action to try to rid ourselves of them – throwing ourselves into work or opening a bottle of wine, for example.
Don’t fight it
Although it may seem counter intuitive, the best thing we can do for ourselves is in fact, to not fight the feelings. Can we really notice what the feeling of this mood feels like in the body? A knot in the stomach perhaps, or a tightness in the chest.
Instead of pushing them away can we recognise the feelings and acknowledge that they are there. Can we allow them to be felt and, in order to stay present and not ruminate about the reasons why they are here, really place our attention with the actual physical sensations the feelings are creating, exploring them without judgement or trying to identify their cause.
Awareness is the key
This focused attention prevents us from ruminating and going into fixing mode. Of course, our minds will try over and over to take our attention away from the present moment and the actual physical sensations we are feeling, but our job is just to notice when that happens and then kindly redirect our attention back into the body. Without a struggle. We may have to do this many, many times and that’s ok. That’s all part of learning a new skilful way of being with our emotions.
Taking care of ourselves
By far the best thing we can do is bring a kindly approach to difficult feelings. This is often the exact opposite of what we tend to do. Instead of fighting them, allow them and ask yourself “how best can I take care of myself” and see what comes back at you! The one thing we can be sure of is that things will change.
Techniques described are adapted from Tara Brach’s RAIN model and are taught during the 8-week Course