When we fully feel, experience and are present with an emotion, it only lasts for short periods of time (minutes to hours).
But what about the person who always seems to be angry, depressed, grumpy or in a bad mood? They have turned what is an emotion into a state. A state is created by the mind when you replay things over and over again.
When we watch a bad movie, do we watch it again and again? Of course not! So why would you replay a 'bad' event in your life over and over again in your head? All it serves to do is to reinforce the emotion over and over again.
Here are some strategies my patients and I have found helpful in letting go of bad states:
- Write and journal your feelings. If it was a person who angered you, write them a letter. Once you've gotten everything out on paper. Burn it or throw it away.
- If you are feeling the need to move or hit something, try a punching bag or a pillow. That way, you get exercise at the same time. It's also a positive way to release stored up energy.
- Try meditation to calm your mind. There are great app's like Headspace that teach beginners how to meditate.
- Try something new. Take up a new hobby, sport, etc. Channel your emotions into something positive and creative.
- Focus on things that you have control over. You are in charge of the way you feel, how you react and your perspective on a situation. You can't control how someone else reacts. Recognize where you can make changes and work in those areas.
- Find a friend and ask for 5 minutes to rant. After 5 minutes, your time is up and you move on.
- Put yourself in the other person's shoes. Perhaps they were having a bad day before they met you, maybe there's too much on their plate or they are overworked and stressed. How often have you acted out in times of stress?
- Forgive. Picture them in your mind and say to them "I forgive you".
- Identify the lesson. In each situation, you can learn something about yourself or life. Ask yourself, what is the lesson here? If it was someone else that triggered your anger, ask yourself, what buttons exist within you that were pushed? Do you have a need to be right? An expectation of being perfect? Did you get upset because one of your expectations were not met?
- If you are still having trouble letting go or something traumatic has happened to you, please come in for a consult or seek further help.
Physical, emotional and mental tension that is not resolved gets stored in your body. Over time, you run out of 'storage space' and secondary conditions such as pain, can occur. Learn to optimize your nervous system by letting go.