Friday, December 14, 2007

"Negative" Emotions

An old print ad for Ban deodorant has caused me to ponder.

It suggests, with an amusing picture for each, some items we might like to get rid of:

Ban Insecurity
Ban Stereotypes
Ban Angst
Ban Self-Doubt

For some of these, mental health professionals (and Buddhists) might suggest that we let them be and simply watch them float in and away.

I've found that thoughts/emotions I try to get rid of tend to stick and grow. At the same time, sometimes I can stop a thought when it first rises: just "don't go there." This is a matter of some import to me, since I have a form of OCD that's more "pure obsessive," as it's called.

What do you think? What has your experience been?

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Debra w said...

Hi Peggy,

Before I can allow a thought and/or an emotion to move through me, I must spend some time entertaining it. I find that I have to spend some time examining the thought/emotion, before I can comfortably let it go. Once I have gone through that process, I find it is much easier to remind myself to just "let it go."

I agree that it is crucial for us to navigate our way through "negative" feelings before we can just allow them to float away. Obsessing is one thing, but taking the time that we need in order to work through something, is another. Writing is a form of allowing an idea/emotion to ruminate, using it for something constructive, and then turning the page on it, so that we can go on to the next thing.

I am curious. Do you have any other thoughts about this?

Peggy said...

I wish I were able to keep a thought or emotion from moving through me. I don't know how to do that, and do take meds to stop the obsessing. They're about 88% effective.

What I do know is that obsessing is an excruciating waste of time. Worrying doesn't do any good either. (and the two are different.)

On the other hand, thinking and simply letting something marinate in the barely conscious part of the mind are both quite useful techniques for letting possibilities develop.

How do you go about stopping an emotion or thought, Debra? I could use a good technique and I'll bet a lot of others could too.

Debra w said...

I think that if you are able to stop yourself from obsessing about a thought or emotion 88% of the time, you are doing pretty well. I do, however, agree with your frustration about not being able to keep a thought/emotion from moving through you. Sometimes the only way to deal with the frustration is to give into the process.

If the thought or emotion is truly bothersome, here are some things that I do in order to try to stop the cycle.

I take a hot shower. I once read somewhere that the hot water does something to our nerve endings which allows us to think more clearly and rationally. If a thought/emotion is being really stubborn about leaving, I find that taking a shower helps me to work the thought through, and then out of my mind. I usually feel better afterwards, because once I have entertained the thought in the shower, I picture it washing down the drain. The visualization helps me let go, more quickly.

Sometimes, I am in the middle of something joyful, and I start to feel a nagging sense in my stomach that something is just not right. I have come to recognize this actual feeling as the culmination of a thought which is trying to rise from my subconscious. If I catch the thought/emotion BEFORE it makes its way to the surface, I can usually stop it, and replace it with something good. I find that if I can rechannel the thought into something positive, it is more apt to go away without too much effort. I do have to catch it as a "feeling" in order for this to work for me.

Another thing that sometimes works is changing my focus to something that I am grateful for. It is difficult to focus on gratitude and negativity, at the same time. There isn't room for both.

A change of environment can sometimes help. Even moving from one room to the next can be enough to change the thought. Change of venue, change of thought.

I do not think that there is one particular thing that works all of the time, so you have to experiment. I guess that it can come down to being able to control our own thoughts, while not allowing our thoughts to control us. Not an easy thing to do!

Best of luck! Please let me know if you come up with any other ideas because I am always looking for more ways to do this, myself.

Have a great evening.

Peggy said...

Good ideas. Brushing my teeth and putting on fresh lipstick can sometimes give me a frest start mentally.

Or doing some little chore that needs doing.