You Were Doing Fine Until . . . What To Do When Something Unexpected Takes You Down

You were doing fine. Even rocking it. Then one small event, one you knew was small, took you down.

You can’t understand why.

A blog reader called me this morning asking me why the above happened. She’d taken in a stray cat, and was irritated by its mewing but fed it. Then, a car hit it. And she cried for three days.

Here’s what I told her.

Feelings from our past — that we haven’t fully processed — can rise up when something in our present triggers them.

Where do these feelings come from? We buried them.  

We experience a difficult situation and pull it together.

Except — we don’t give ourselves time to grieve or feel how darn bad it was. We may even have said, “that was no big deal,” . . . but it was.

If what I’ve just written resonates with you, here’s what works to uproot buried feelings:

  1. Bring the situation to mind and allow yourself to feel the emotions.

When you do this, you find a knot forming in your stomach, tightness in your chest or tears welling up in your eyes. Tell yourself it’s all right to feel and let the tears flow.

Emotions need to be expressed and integrated so they can be healed.    

  • Then, give yourself a chance to come to peace with what happened, and let it go.

What if you can’t? That’s when you call someone you trust and talk about it. Their nonjudgmental listening and questioning may help you get past the barriers you’ve erected. Or, tell yourself to dream about it, allowing your unconscious — where those feelings exist — to reveal what they are.

What if you uncover negative beliefs about yourself along with the feelings?

Beliefs are not fact. Often, they’re others’ messages about us. At other times, they’re generalizations we create to explain why things happened.

Once you become conscious of them, challenge the ones you don’t want to clutter your brain. You’re the air traffic controller of your mind; do you want them to land? In the same way you unsubscribe to email you don’t want to receive, decide to unsubscribe to negative beliefs that limit your joy.

We’re almost to a New Year. Let it be wonderful.   

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3 thoughts on “You Were Doing Fine Until . . . What To Do When Something Unexpected Takes You Down

  1. It’s not the event that takes us down, but how we interpret it. I find my reactions to circumstances are directly related to my “self talk”, which is driven by feelings. In the example, I would have felt good to have fed a hungry creature prior to its demise- at least it didn’t die hungry! My self-talk is that I love animals and life happens, sometimes sadly. Someone else, who’s self talk may be to fear animals, may say “good riddance”. Telling one’s self that you can possess an animal (especially a cat!) leads to disappointment and grief.

    The process you describe provides for time to process an event, consider its consequences and, even more, its meaning. Great advice, to be the “air traffic controller” of your beliefs- to monitor your self talk; to make (or take) time; to be mindful. Thanks for sharing!

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