Release negative emotions and change your mindset
I was struggling to contain my anger last week. Anger, and sadness. It seemed that decisions were being made for me and that I had no control, which made me feel angry. Something I’d wanted for a long time appeared to be taken from me and I thought I’d never have the same opportunity again, which made me feel sad.
I blamed others for the situation, and resentment started to mount. Like a cancer, it spread thick and fast, to the point I’d literally shake with anger and cry with sadness. But I knew better. I was aware of what I was doing – I was playing the victim.
With awareness, and through mindfulness, I made a conscious decision to change my thoughts, redirect my energy, and refocus on practices that would shift me from a state of victimhood to one of faith and understanding, where I was at ease with the process.
I won’t sugar-coat it; it’s bloody hard to make the shift. You don’t just wake up one day, make a decision to change the way you look at things or think about something and it’s automatically better. Mindfulness is a practice. You’re going to have to reaffirm to yourself every day that which you’ve resolved in your mind to be true. If you let seeds of negativity, doubt or resentment slip back into your thought patterns, and if you give them enough attention, they will grow like weeds and suffocate your best intentions.
I’ve had moments throughout this week and last when I’ve felt those emotions of anger, sadness, resentment and doubt raise their ugly heads – even after making the conscious decision release them. To rise above them and maintain that positive momentum, I had to practice mindfulness daily, maintain self-awareness, and stand by my decision to shift so that I can experience more consistently my greater desire – to be happy.
Here are some things I did to help shift my mindset from anger, sadness, victimhood and fear to faith, hope, acceptance and love.
Don’t contain your emotions, release them
I journaled – thoughts can fester and manifest into dis-ease. I find that the process of writing and releasing them from my brain onto paper gives those negative thoughts the attention and coherence they need, and then it’s done. No need to look at them again.
I breathed them out – I’ll still sometimes feel the tension of fear, anger, sadness, and hurt rise up, particularly when lying in bed at the end of the day. So I’ll inhale deeply, while visualising a clean, bright, soothing light entering my body to gently sweep out those emotions through my exhale. It’s amazing how much perspective and calmness you can gain through deep breathing.
I meditated – train the brain to let you feel emotion without getting attached to them or letting your feelings define you – just because feel mad doesn’t mean you are mad or that you are doomed to always feel mad. Feel it, experience what it’s like to be mad, and then let it go. This is the practice that takes the most time to master, and it is a constant practice.
I walked – getting among nature and helps me see that everything comes and goes in cycles. Nothing lasts forever, but nothing is ever truly gone or dead either. Missed opportunities will come again in a better time, place and method.
I hit the gym – sometimes you’ve just got to get physical with this stuff; push out the anger, or direct the intensity of the emotion into something constructive. Incidentally, I made a PB last week at Crossfit, RXing my first WOD since starting the sport seven months ago. Coincidence..?
I talked to friends – I made it clear that I didn’t want them to solve my problems or offer suggestions, I just needed to vent and release. Like with journalling, the same principles apply (i.e. spit it out and then let it go – don’t revisit it).
Don’t lay blame; make a choice and own your decision
We don’t have to do things we don’t want to do. Everything is a choice. I may have felt like decisions were being made for me, or I was backed into a corner, but that fact is I made a decision to let go because I wasn’t prepared to deal with the consequences that may or may not have arisen from holding on.
Initially, when I let go, I blamed others. “They made me do this” type stuff. I felt trapped, like my freedom was being restricted, which is where the feelings of resentment came from. But in the end, I realised that no one forced me to do anything, even though it may have felt like it. I made a choice based on assessing the situation and weighing up the consequences.
When you own your choices, you release others from the false and unfair authoritarian position you may have placed them in (the energy that you give to this particular thought can poison relationships). When you own your decisions and you are no longer a victim.
Don’t look back, focus forward
If you don’t like what you’re doing, you have the power to choose something different. I don’t believe there is any point in regretting anything for too long, because what we did or didn’t do at the time was either something that was once exactly what we wanted or has taught us something valuable since. Not to mention, there is nothing you can do about the past, so don’t waste your energy.
Instead, focus forward. I chose to let go of an opportunity, but I want it back. So I’ll write it down. In fact, I did. I wrote it down in January 2015 on my “out there dreams” list. I was shocked when I opened the book in which I’d written and saw those words staring back at me, but then I was like, “Of course you did, Kate.” What I thought was a pipe dream at the start of the year I had in my hands 11 months later. (Just another classic example of how you can manifest anything.)
So no matter what you think you may have lost, or never had to begin with, it’s just an illusion. I know I can get back what I thought I’d lost. This time though, I’ll do more than write it down. I’ll make it a goal, see the end picture first and then craft out the steps toward it. It’s not how I originally intended it, but I’ve learnt a lot of valuable lessons in the process. So perhaps, in the end, I’ll have gained much more than I ever expected.