We’ve all been there. You begin to workout at the gym consistently, get on a good diet, eating better, feeling better. Then you fall off the bandwagon and back to your old patterns. You start off so well only to find yourself in our old ways of doing things and feel discouraged. Depression and anxiety begin to creep in. This can be true with work projects, school projects, house chores, hobbies, even communication in relationships.
Why do I keep doing this? Why can’t I just be disciplined like other people?
This is usually followed by a series of name calling, thoughts that beat yourself up. You feel bad, heavy, numb, or maybe constantly feeling on edge. Next thing you know, you want to stop, give up, and veg on the couch binge watching Netflix. All the while your head is playing the re-run of, “See, I’m not good enough,” or something close to it.
We use TV, phone, scrolling in social media, eating, etc. to escape from our thoughts because thinking keeps us in a cycle of rumination. And the WHY is what keeps us stuck in our thoughts. It’s time to stop thinking and start feeling.
Your emotions and physical sensations are where the answers lie.
This is where the healing happens. When you can listen to your emotions, accept them, then you are accepting yourself. Acceptance instead of rejection provides love and self-compassion. Love heals, fulfills, and motivates. Love and acceptance are the reason many of us get up every day. So why not provide it to yourself instead of beating yourself up for what you should be doing or what you’re not doing or what you are doing?
I get it. You immediately think, “But I’m not good enough. I deserve to be punished. I don’t like myself. How can I love myself?”
Do you see how thoughts keep you stuck? Criticizing thoughts lead to shame which leads to avoidance (giving up, pushing away, ignoring, procrastinating, hiding). Love leads to acceptance which leads to motivation, only strengthening love.
A small step to asking “why” is by asking, “What is this?” Name the emotion you’re feeling. Identify where you feel it in your body; heaviness, watery eyes, rapid heartbeat, shakiness, tight stomach, shoulders, throat? Don’t ignore it or force it to be different when you notice it. Just notice it’s there and let it be.
3 Steps to begin listening to you and get out of the well of depression and anxiety.
For the next 7 days, at the end of your day, think of something pleasant that happened. It could be as small as someone smiled at you and held the door open for you, to as big as getting a promotion and a raise. Once you have that image and situation in mind, jot down these 3 things:
- What emotion(s) are you feeling as you think of it?
- Where do you feel it in your body?
- What is the thought/belief you’re having as you think about it?
For the following 7 days, (2nd week) do the same for Unpleasant events. Yes, unpleasant. This is when you can include those moments that you find yourself in an old pattern, or ignoring, avoiding, criticizing. If you can accept the bad just like you do the good, the less impact and power it has on you. If you keep ignoring or avoiding them, the more they build over time and weigh on you. Making it easier to give up and lose motivation. Would you rather listen to your reactions now and let it go, or ignore and hold on to them as they only get stronger?
After these two weeks, notice how you feel when you can pause and get to know your emotions, sensations rather than just your thoughts. This is empathy and self-compassion. This is you. Say hello, listen, and pay attention.
Yes, you do deserve this no matter your past or current circumstances.
Don’t let old thoughts tell you otherwise.
You can choose to listen to them or learn a different way of knowing, understanding, and choosing.
If you find that you’ve mastered the skill of not feeling, and it’s just too painful, overwhelming, or fear losing control if you turn to your emotions and sensations, speaking with a counselor can help break this barrier in a safe and gradual way. To learn more, please contact me for a free 20-minute consultation.