There are so many things going on in the world right now, but really, was there ever a time in history when there weren't so many events happening in the world? The fact is we have more access to more information at anytime because of our devices. And it isn't necessarily a good thing that we have access to everything, all the time. We are inundated with information from morning until night through our televisions to our inboxes. It's important to recognize when our emotions are being triggered by our environments by way of what we are listening to, watching, or reading. We need to allow ourselves to take a break from it all. It's okay to not have an opinion on every issue in the world. It's also okay not to know everything.
The intent for writing this piece is to provide you with some mindful tips as you scroll the news and social media. Here are some steps you can take as you become more aware of your mind as you navigate the endless feed of information. I use these steps frequently and my practice has become stronger the more I allow myself to be open to learning more about the inner workings of my mind.
Emotions are part of the human experience. These emotions allow us to fully experience life and the world around us, we also have the opportunity to connect with other sentient beings. We have a range of emotions that all serve a purpose. Love and anger can be very motivating when used in a non-harmful way, of course. It is normal to experience this range in our lifetimes. Generally, we categorize emotions as "good" or "bad." We, as a society, have a tendency to spiritually bypass "negative, bad, or unacceptable" emotions and try to soothe people with "good vibes only" and or tell them so and so has it worse, you should be happy and other shit like that. This is such a black and white perspective which doesn't do us any justice to simply say this emotion is "good" and this one is "bad.'' It's like we can only accept the positive, but in reality there is duality. And of course, the gray in-between area. We need to experience the spectrum of emotions to live fully. If you've never experienced extreme sadness, you wouldn't understand how joy and bliss can utterly feel like heaven on Earth. I feel grateful to have known that deep dark depression as well as that feeling of walking on air when you first fall in love. I believe "bad" emotions are like little holes in our souls to show us where the healing needs to be done. Here are some steps you can take when you begin to feel overwhelmed by your emotions or are triggered.
Accept whatever emotion that rises up. Invite this emotion in. Do this without judgment or criticism of yourself. You can have the emotion, but do not become it. Just because you're angry in one moment, does not mean you need to stay angry the whole day. Emotions are fluid. They CAN change. Don't get stuck on stupid.
Ask yourself "what is the emotion trying to teach me?" "What can I learn about myself because of this reaction?" "Is there some event or trauma that occurred in my past that gets triggered when I read certain articles or social media posts?" Spend some time there. Journal or write about your feelings. We don't want to keep these emotions suppressed, especially the "bad" emotions, because they will just fester, like an illness and it will poison your interactions with people and cloud your vision. I'm sure we all know that perpetual grumpy person who is not a joy to be around.
When you are triggered, I invite you to sit with the emotion. Let it pass. And breathe. How many breaths can you take before the emotion starts to subside?
Next time you are triggered and that emotion comes up, I invite you to pause. Be still. Feel the feeling, recognize you are triggered, and breathe. Don't react. Think first, and then respond. Or don't respond at all until you are calm and can articulate yourself in way that is not emotionally charged.
Emotions are opportunities to understand ourselves better so we can learn how to cope with strong emotions in a more constructive way. We may not have had good role models growing up and we may have witnessed those grown-ups responding to their own emotions in a very harmful way by way of drinking or drugging or some other coping mechanism to suppress emotions. Look at emotions as a valuable learning tool which are inviting you to go inward and learn more about yourself. And remember, this is a practice, not a perfect; you won't always get it right every time, but the more you recognize your patterns of behavior and practice with these tools, the better you will get over time. I promise. We don't know, what we don't know. And once we learn better, we do better.