5 Jan 2019
If you find yourself in a very difficult moment when emotional overwhelm is present, when difficult decisions are in the forefront of your mind or doubts, choices, decisions just keep mounting up, just stop for a moment. Take a few deep breaths and acknowledge the intensity of the thoughts and feelings you are experiencing right now. Then consciously step out of that moment into into a parallel now – an alternative now. Feel your whole body shift from one lane to the next on the motorway, from the fast lane, to the middle lane and to the slow lane. Breathe slower and deeper as you feel that shift. Feel yourself move from stressful lane to a calmer lane.
Now sense you are moving from one present moment that is stressful and emotional to a parallel moment that is calm and slow and filled with calming music, pace, presence of something that brings you into a peaceful state like a friend, partner, family member, relative, ancestor, spiritual master or God Self. Nature, a stream or river, a beach, a garden feels great.
Alternatively if the now really is too much feel yourself moving from the tense and stressful now into the calm, distant and not too far away future, a point from where you can look back with complete detachment and where you feel so calm and centred, grounded and relaxed. When you feel calm and centred enough just look back and think ‘Wow! I just moved out of that stressful and tense place. It was just a momentary episode of very difficult thoughts and feelings but I got myself out of it because I am here now.’
Then think of yourself sitting or standing on a timeline looking back down the timeline to all the times where there were difficult thoughts, feelings and moments of stress, tension, maybe depression and being in a very dark place. When you look back at them realise that you came through them and out the other side and then see the good times, calm times, relief, happiness that is dotted in between the dark times of doubt, stress, anxiety, depression or fear. Recognise that difficult times are spread in between better times. Difficult times never last forever. See the flow of ups and downs and how this trend or pattern moves over time.
When you’re feeling more calm, relaxed and centred, grounded and with peace of mind, gradually bring yourself back to the present moment. You can stay in the slow lane if you like. You can stay in the same state of being as you were by the stream, beach or lake. Remember you can feel like this again, and again and again. They are just states of mind that pass like clouds in the sky.
In your journal reflect on this exercise by jotting down the times and days when you had these extreme emotional periods or episodes, what caused them or whether they just happened. Underneath jot down all the times and experiences where you felt good, just relaxed, peaceful, centred and grounded.
What do you notice about the frequency of the negative and positive experiences? Which ones happen the most? Is there a pattern to their appearance? When you are having a difficult episode are you self-soothing or are you beating yourself up inside? Or are you beating someone else up in your mind? Do you remember to self-soothe and use a strategy to move out of the stress lane or the depression lane? What kinds of things do you try and get yourself to do when you’re having a difficult time? Do you isolate yourself to self-soothe or do you try and get yourself to talk to someone like the Samaritans or a friend or family member you trust? Do you do anything like distraction – TV, radio, Youtube? Do you slip into a behaviour like eating, drinking, taking drugs?
It is ok to know that these moments are part of life and how we manage to manage them is what we have to work at for now. We won’t have to do it all the time but when you have these mental and emotional drops we need to know we can manage them as best we can and to the best of our ability.
In your journal jot down all the strategies and techniques you would like to use when you feel a mental or emotional downturn coming.
Now you’re better prepared. Be aware of when you start preparing for one – at the right time, a bit late perhaps or forgotten to use a strategy altogether? This is the great learning curve and a very important ability to manage these experiences because you will be in a good position to teach others and keep teaching yourself.