Hello and welcome back to The Joy Within’s podcast. Today I want to share a strategy that can help you to stop negative emotions from derailing your entire day. I know for me, when I was first learning to manage my mood, sometimes a negative emotion would come up, and it would feel like it would just start to spiral out of control.
Even if the thought or the circumstance that triggered the emotion was quite minor, I would find hat it could impact me so much that I would basically lose the entire day. I wouldn’t be able to focus, or maybe I’d just start beating myself up about it for no real reason…then I’d beat myself up for beating myself up. It’s a vicious cycle.
But, there’s a really simple trick you can use to stop this pattern. It’s a little counterintuitive, maybe even a bit radical, but it works. But, I want to be clear that this strategy is really only appropriate when you get trapped in those downward spirals and it takes you a really long time to get out of them. It’s a last resort technique, so to speak, and hopefully over time as you get better at managing your thoughts and energy you won’t need to use this strategy that often. But, in the beginning, it really helps. You have to know yourself, know that you probably would have lost the day anyway, if you didn’t try this technique.
Because the strategy – basically – is to give up. Give in to the negativity. Accept that – for all intents and purposes – you’ve already lost the day. Acknowledge that you’re not going to get anything done and that, honestly, anything you would maybe get done probably isn’t going to be that good, because you’re just not in the right headspace. You’re not really focused.
Now, I know this might sound counterproductive. After all, our goal is to not let those negative thoughts impact us, right? We want to avoid those spirals, so why would you give in to it?
The answer has to do with how giving up shifts your energy. Think about it. When you’re trying to work yourself out of a negative spiral, it’s easy to fall into a battle mentality. You start thinking, I have to get out of this state. I have to improve. I don’t want to think that. I want to think this. No, not that thought. This thought.
It’s a hard struggle. Pretty soon, you start beating yourself up about it, which just adds yet another layer of negativity.
At that point, your #1 problem isn’t really the negative thought. It’s your energy. Your momentum. As you fight against your thoughts, you spiral deeper and deeper in the wrong direction. You’re battling. You’re recoiling.
But, when you give up, when you accept that you’ve already lost this battle, something interesting happens. You surrender. You let go. And – often – you immediately start to feel better. You had – unknowingly – put so much at stake in the fight that, subconsciously, losing was unacceptable.
When you give in, you accept that you already lost and – this is the key – you realize that it’s ok. You lost that battle, yes, but you’re still here. All is well. So a sense of relief washes over you. Often, you might even feel a sense of peace, or even joy.
If you don’t feel that relief, you haven’t really surrendered. You’re still struggling against the negativity. Still trying to fight it.
But, once you feel that relief, you’ve completely changed the game, because now you can play the game on your terms. You’ve already given up the day, which means you no longer expect anything of yourself. You give yourself permission to relax.
Now, you have a choice. You might literally decide to take the rest of the day off. Go for a walk. Spend time with friends or family. Tell yourself you can always just get a fresh start tomorrow. If that sounds like a luxury, if you’re in a situation where you can’t just get up and leave – ie: you’re working – you can still do this internally. It’s really about giving yourself permission, mentally acknowledging that – even if you still have to be at work – you don’t expect anything of yourself. Not for today. That’s Option A.
Option B is to leverage that feeling of surrender into positive momentum. You can decide to do whatever it takes to shift your energy further. Log-in to your Joy Within account and watch a few trainings, do a few exercises, or just sit and let one of the meditations wash over you. Remember that you’ve already given up the day, you it really doesn’t matter what you do, or how long it takes.
And, you might find that after a while – maybe that’s 10 minutes, maybe it’s an hour or two – you actually start feeling inspired to get back to your work, or whatever your original plan for the day was. You might be surprised how much easier – how effortless, even – your day becomes, once you’ve given up the need to do it.