I Can't Help Feeling Crappy...Can I??
We’ve talked about how we give our power away, and how we live in a culture that basically tells us to do that….And today I want to talk about one thing that we DO have power over that we don’t often realise. The things we add to already painful situations.
Pain is a reality of life. Stuff happens that sucks. We fall down, we break up, we lose things we care about…These are experiences we can’t control. They’re a part of life. But what we DO have power over is the things we ADD to the situation. Thinking I suck because I’m so clumsy, I’m a loser because I have no friends, I must be unloveable if I’m single. These negative thoughts are what we can look at as SUFFERING…a whole separate layer on top of the pain of what is actually occurring.
For example if I got a bad mark on a test, there is the initial pain of the let down, the disappointment, maybe the shock. But then there is the suffering that I add to this experience by thinking that I’m an idiot, that I’ll never amount to anything, that I always mess things up.
All of these thoughts make this already difficult situation WAY worse for myself. So why do we do this? Why do we make our pain more intense and add this whole other layer to our experience of hard things?
Well it all comes from the same place as all the rest of our struggles…our brain forms patterns when we’re young based on survival mechanisms that have no access to logic or perspective and we don’t realise that we’re still seeing the world through this lens. We don’t see that our brain is connecting things that shouldn’t be connected, such as “if something bad happens to me it must mean I suck” or “if I don’t have a boyfriend it must mean I’m unloveable”. These are false links that our mind has made without us realising the unnecessary suffering they are causing us.
When we are stuck in this web of suffering, we begin to think that what has happened to us defines us.
We start seeing ourselves as ‘the girl who’s parents split up’ or ‘the guy who didn’t make the football team’. We get so distracted thinking about how crappy our situation is and what it means about us, that we aren’t really dealing with the actual experience. And when we don’t deal with the experience, we don’t process it, we don’t get to heal from it, we don’t get any learning, and ultimately we can’t move past it.
Our brain just keeps going on and on with this story we’ve created about how stupid we are or how awful our life is, and it isn’t able to take in any more wisdom or see anything differently. We’re stuck with the interpretation we’ve created.
For me, I always get stuck in thinking that I shouldn’t be upset. If something happens that makes me sad or I’m having a down day, I get sucked into this cycle of thinking that there’s something wrong with me which means that instead of just simply feeling sad for a while and then moving on, I’m in this whole drama of misery that lasts way longer than my original sadness would have!
So what can we do about this?
When we’re struggling with something hard, take a moment to pause and notice your thoughts. Ask yourself the question “What am I adding to this situation? How am I making this harder than it needs to be? What am I thinking this MEANS about me?”
Allow yourself to experience whatever is happening for you, knowing that it’s ok, and that the more you can just deal with the actual reality of what’s happening, without letting it define WHO YOU ARE, the more easily it will pass.
One great example of cycles of suffering takes place in bullying dynamics. Check out my Youtube video exploring the topic of what to do when it seems like bullying is happening ALL around you...