Well, although I posted a few days ago about being terrified of teaching my first Feeling-Good-related class, I am now exhilarated and looking forward to it.
I’ll have to add this tip for feeling good to my upcoming book: “If you’re having a very pronounced negative feeling and you just can’t seem to elevate it in the moment, just allow it. It will pass, and you’ll feel better than ever.”
I’ve come to know when I can and can’t elevate a mood in the moment. In fact, I’ve been known to lie down on the couch and just let the feeling of misery take over!
I now know that emotion is like a cork bobbing on the surface of the water, and those miserable moments are like a cork being pushed underwater. Most of the time I can consciously look for positive thoughts that allow the cork to rise gradually to the surface, but sometimes (like a few days ago) I just have to endure the bad feeling until it passes.
You might think that I’m headed back to my old suicidal ways, but that’s not the case. In the old days, I didn’t know that emotions bob up and down like corks. I used to think that my life’s conditions, which were pretty miserable, were controlling my emotions. Now I know, and look forward to, my cork popping up once I get over myself and stop focusing on that condition that scares me so much.
I was pressuring myself to have the book ready in time for the class. Once I realized that there was no way the book was going to be ready and that the class would still be successful, my “cork” popped up and I felt joyful about doing the class. Granted, I had to wait until I got a good night’s sleep for this to happen, but the awareness that my emotions would naturally bob back up is what saved me from going the old route.
So, if you’ve ever fought depression, consider noting how you feel throughout the day. Normally, there is at least one time during the day that you forget that you’re depressed. You laugh at something, or you see a cute kid, or your favorite team wins the game, or something else great happens. Take a second to notice the relief that you feel, and praise the relief for what it is — RELIEF! It feels good to be relieved. It feels good to be “not-depressed” when your normal emotion is depression. Begin to look forward to those moments of relief, because they will happen if you allow them to. If you’re waiting for your entire life to change before you recognize and praise those moments, you’re not going to amplify the feeling of relief in your life and you’re probably putting off the overall relief that you really want.
By the way, it needs to be said here: Feeling relief in your emotions will actually put you in a position to get relief in those miserable life conditions that are making you depressed in the first place. We, as a society, are not afraid to say that feeling happy will relieve you from (or even prevent) physical symptoms that you don’t want. Why are we, as a society, afraid to say that feeling emotional relief will put you in a better position to get a good job, have better relationships, fulfill your life’s purpose, etc.? I’m just not afraid to make that leap anymore, now that my own experience has made me realize this: my emotions improved first, and THEN my life conditions improved.
Amplify what you want, and allow the things that you don’t want. (In other words, fighting hard against emotions that you don’t want serves to amplify them.) You can elevate your mood on many occasions just by shifting your focus, but when you just can’t avoid thinking about that terrible thing, rest and let the feeling come. You will feel better in time if you just relax and let that overwhelming feeling take over. It’s going to be temporary, and you know it. You can also think of negative emotions like waves on the shore. You can’t stop them, but they all withdraw back into the sea of their own accord.