Since entering my 40’s the careful handling of my emotions has become quite the task. I’ve heard war stories about how it only gets worse, and how other little enjoyable sidekicks come to join the party; hot flashes, sleepless nights and erratic behavior top the list. (Pretty sure I read a bit on schizophrenia and how that can pop up in mid-life as well.) Awesome.
At this point in my life, I’m learning how to manage my “symptoms”. I can be ho-humming along in my life… and then one day I’ll wake up and BAM! Mama is in a bad mood and you better clear out the way! My mood shifts and I’m not nice to anyone, especially myself.
The barrage of insults and self-loathing I let loose on myself could debilitate an army of Deepak Chopra’s disciples. They’ll be like, oh no, this one is a lost cause, we better move on and find someone we can really help.
I can get into a deep funk, one that has me doubting myself, questioning everything from my looks to my intelligence, to every last choice I’ve made along that way that got me to where I am at that very moment. Nothing is off-limits.
I’ve learned over time to expect these moments now. I know slightly over the horizon of well and good lurks this powerful, and debilitating demon and I’ve become savvy to its way. I’ve learned to prepare for battle when the time comes, and that time is either 1) When I’m ovulating or 2) the day before I get my period.
Clock-fkn-work. And I have to thank my little Apple watch for helping me become all the more aware. If you’re like me and you never followed your flow before, you have to get the app that keeps track of your little friend so you know when she’s coming. It made all the difference for me. Now I’m ready.
Having this knowledge gives you an edge. It gives you ammo. You know it’s coming, and that’s half the battle. As someone who has dealt with low-grade depression all my life, having the advantage is a major edge in dealing with this emotional roller coaster. Once you’re in the know, you can then begin to confidently experiment with your not-so-finest moments and begin to “let it go”.
Granted, it’s easy to say “let it go”, but it’s a whole other thing to actually follow through on it. Yet, follow-through you must if you don’t want to linger in the muck and mire that bad days can bring.
So How Do You “Let It Go”?
I’ve experimented with this for quite some time and here’s what I’ve come up with that may be helpful to you. And in all transparency, only one of these worked out the best for me, but try them all, because what works for one, doesn’t do a thing for another!
Pick up a book, any book and read wisdom from the ages. It could be from Socrates, Marcus Aurelius, Will Smith (he’s more of a YouTuber), or Tony Robbins. It doesn’t matter who you choose, simply choose someone who can help you alter your view on life and the current situation or trauma you’re dealing with at the moment.
Gaining a new perspective, or putting things into perspective, can help ease the heaviness and drama you’re currently dancing with at the moment.
2. Get into the present moment by feeling and looking around.
An effective way to create a mental shift that I learned from a therapist long ago was that when you’re getting consumed by the moment, you can easily detach by immersing yourself in the moment. The present moment.
Let’s say you’re driving and the emotions are welling up, tears about to roll down letting way to an ugly cry. You know the moment. Instead of giving in to it, switch your focus to your hands and how they feel on the steering wheel. Is it warm, cold? Are you squeezing the life out of the steering wheel, are you using one hand or two? Focus on how it feels as you grip it. Then move to your feet. How do your shoes feel on your feet? Are they tight, pinching, or soft and comfy? Can you actually feel your shoes on your feet? Open the window if it’s closed. Can you feel the breeze on your face? Say out loud how it feels.
This change in focus gets you fully into the present moment. The only moment that matters is the present moment and you need to be consciously in it to see that you’re ok. You’re ok. Really.
3. Get cold.
I’m going to warn you, this one sucks. I don’t do it as often as I should, but the few times I did do it, it had longer-lasting results than a lot of other things I tried.
Our minds and bodies are connected, so when you change one, the other will be affected. When I’ve done this, afterward I feel a weird sense of enlightenment, which is reason enough for me to keep trying it, no matter how much it sucks while doing it!
When you’re in the shower, for the last 30 seconds, go from hot to super cold. When I do this it’s so cold I can’t possibly think about anything else but how cold it is! And 30 seconds seems like an eternity.
When you can’t get out of your head, you need to get into your body and this is one sure-fire way to immediately get there! Try it, it’s like a flash reminder that you have an entire body and you’re not doing yourself any good by staying only in your brain.
4. Do something you’re passionate about.
Even if it’s for only 10 minutes.
Distracting yourself helps to give you space. Space at this point is sacred. It creates momentary relief at a time you need it most. Distractions secretly help you to release anger, resentment or whatever you’re dealing with because you’re spending time doing something you enjoy or bring you peace. You replace your angst with passion.
It could be anything you choose too. You have that right. Read, paint, organize, sing, dance, express yourself for yourself. No one else. Give yourself permission to do something that satisfies your soul.
5. Repeat this to yourself: “I accept”.
I’m very intrigued by Naval Radikant after reading about him in Tim Ferriss’s book, Tools of Titans. I wrote here about how he limits his desires so as to minimize his suffering. It’s really very interesting and a habit I’ve adopted that’s helped me when I feel overwhelmed and frustrated.
Another little tib-bit of advice he offers is this. You always have three options in life You can change things, you accept things, or you can leave things.
The phrase that I probably use the most to myself in my head is just one word: accept. — Naval Ravikant
Accept this moment, accept what you’re feeling, and change one thought, or make one move, or take one step anyway. That’s how I interpret it.
Acceptance can clear up so much angst. Accept the moment, don’t place too much concern on the outcome, and move. In any way possible, move through the moment. And keep doing that. Keep moving. Even though you feel like you’re in the mud. Keep working to get out of it. You can walk with depression, you can walk with anger, you can walk with anything as long as you accept it. It doesn’t mean it’s who you are. No one emotion or feeling can define you as long as you keep moving forward.
The one that has worked the best for me is the last one. If I can accept that I’m in the middle of a mental crisis, because sometimes it feels just like that, I find strength in that acceptance. I allow it, and I move forward even if I take it with me. Eventually, it grows tired, especially when I accept it and stop trying to push it away. It won’t walk along with me for very long I’ve discovered.
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AM Costanzo is a motivational junkie, loves a-ha moments, and works hard to help others feel strong, powerful and downright fabulous in body and mind!