How to keep it together during inescapable unpleasant experiences?
Have you ever contemplated on why it FEELS really hard to get through an unpleasant experience? A worthless job that you MUST do to pay bills? An appointment with your dentist that you MUST go through?
It can be boiled down to two components:
a) The actual circumstance that acts as a cue
b) Your mind’s reaction (which is typically based on repetitive habits) that acts as a routine
Circumstance causes unpleasant feelings. This part is 100% undeniable.
But then what happens next? Your mind reacts by projecting aversion (in the shape of anger, frustration or sadness) as an answer to these unpleasant feelings.
This is a trap!
Anytime you encounter unpleasant feelings and believe me you will through out a given month/year, caution yourself that this “cue” could easily trap you into the muddy pit of aversion. I don’t think many of us intentionally choose to be sliding away into the pit but this is in most cases our default reaction.
When we encounter something we don’t like and have to put up with it, we generally miss the transitory stage where our mind is processing these unpleasant feelings and jump straight to the familiar path of aversion. Now, this works if you can actually control and alter the cue.
For ex: If you encounter rain on your evening walk, your mind quickly processes the unpleasant feelings of “getting too wet” and offers the path to run to a shade. This is fine since you CAN ACTUALLY do something change your status quo. Another example is if you encounter an annoyingly loud passenger on a train, you can simply choose to change your car and thus alter the circumstance.
But in many cases, you can’t “control” the situation. For example, if you are stuck in a dead end job that you MUST do for various undeniable reasons, you have no option but to patiently accept this state. Or if you are stuck in some accident traffic on your way to work for a key meeting, you are stuck and can’t control the entire interstate traffic.
You have the power to catch these unpleasant feelings as they develop and then react differently. But you’ll need to inquire within and realize that you are skipping a step and sliding straight to the pit. Here’s how you may overcome sliding away to sadness: by developing a positive mindset that has a list of positive habits as an answer to the unpleasant feelings.
Next time when you encounter the same trigger/cue/circumstance that you cannot change, try taking a moment and reflecting what silver lining can be projected out of this “seemingly averse” circumstance.
Can you list 3-5 things that you might still be able to do while you are here?
Can you exaggerate the positive impact of these so you can develop excitement?
Often times, we don’t fully know the power of affirmations and self re-programming during a difficult experience.
Everyone goes through tough times but only a few know that they have the choice (and power!) to go through them with a positive mindset.