How do you get out of an emotional rut?

It has been a long absence; you may have noticed I missed the March issue of my newsletter. I truly apologise for that but I know you will understand when I explain what I was doing. See, I was very busy doing the exact thing Pema Chodron is talking about. I was extremely busy giving myself a very difficult time. The fantastic thing about this really difficult time was, the more time I spent on it, the more difficult it got! Have you been there before? Here’s what happened to me: I got very sick, because I simply ignored previous illnesses (who has time to be sick?!) and it snowballed into a giant one.  So, there I was feeling extremely sorry for myself because I was sick and I had no energy to get myself up let alone work on the things I love, such as this newsletter. So as I couldn't do anything much to keep myself busy, I decided to keep busy by listing all the things I was failing to do because I was sick. This emotional black hole was where I lived for a few weeks. I didn't just live there though, I placed all sorts of unresourceful behaviours and thinking to make sure I stayed there! Binge TV watching, eating unhealthy food, playing the victim... you get the idea.  

Since this little episode of mine, many people have commented and asked a similar question:

“How do I get myself out of an emotional rut?” 

Whether you are a mum with a new bub or an entrepreneur in ‘creation’ mode or an employee with a really busy workload, we all go through it. We might get sick, we might feel overwhelmed, we might feel like the world is against us! Sometimes it’s easy to get back up but sometimes it’s really hard.

Here is the first thing we all need to acknowledge. We are ALL emotionally driven. (Yes even those that proclaim to be “unemotional”.) We are addicted to feeling good. We chase it all the time. Feeling good about ourselves gives us a sense of self which gives us a motivation to keep going. Where are we going? To feeling good of course! Some of us eat our way to find it, some of us make lists of life goals and tick them off, some of us chase those promotions...and some of us travel the world all for the sole purpose of finding ourselves. When we find ourselves, we are happy! (Until we lose the feeling and then we have to find ourselves again).

The second thing we need to acknowledge is that our emotions are based on our thoughts. We are what we think. Negative thinking gives rise to negative emotions which lead to negative actions. It is said that, biologically, we are less thinking creatures who feel and more feeling creatures who think. Thinking constructively really does build a more helpful relationship with ourselves, but when caught up in a fog of emotional loath, it is hard to pin point our root thoughts.

So, what’s the quickest way to get ourselves out this destructive situation? It’s following this statement:

Physiology creates psychology.

When our emotional lead is letting us down an undesirable path, we must let our physical body take the lead. Let the emotion follow. If we can manage our physiology, then we manage our emotions. The person with the most behavioural flexibility controls the situation!

So what did I do? As soon as I was able to breathe through my nose again, I got myself outside and cleaned my garden. This got me moving and into the fresh air. It also got me doing something which was not anywhere close to being on my ‘to do’ or even ‘love to do’ lists. The shift in physicality shifted the psychology. It disrupted my pattern of unresourceful choices and emotions and got me back to a more resourceful path of healthy thoughts, emotions  and behaviours. Yours may not need to be that dramatic. It can be as simple as sitting up straight.

So next time you feel your emotions are letting you down, shift your physiology – sometimes the smallest shift is all you need to get yourself back on track!