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Sporadic photos and notes from a Psyche-midwife, cheerleader, anthropologist--aka clinical social worker in therapy practice. Photos are usually mine except for those of historical events/famous people. Music relevant to the daily topic is often included in a web video embedded below the blog. Click on highlighted links in the copy to get to source or supplemental material. For contact information, see my website @ janasvoboda.com or click on the button to the right below. Join in the conversation.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Resolution #11: Accept your emotions

 Yesterday we talked about practicing accepting little unpleasant realities (rain, lines, rude drivers) without resistance.  This one is a step up.  These are called practices because even with intention and repetition it is difficult to do consistently, let alone perfectly.  But it is easier with practice.

The key to emotional acceptance is the middle path-- neither indulging, reacting or grasping nor denying, stuffing, misinterpreting.  Emotions should serve as data, even as we remember that some data is noise, not signal.  In other words, moods can arise from physical events such as hunger, hormones and exhaustion.  They can come from psychological events such as bereavement and emotional stress.  Sometimes these are important, and we should pay good attention because they give us clues to take action.  Sometimes they are junk mail, and we should not get too excited about the message within. 

Here's a personal example.  About once a month, I get pretty negative and crabby.  I curse under my breath at drivers, I get offended by how people use their shopping carts to invade my personal space, I feel hopeless about the future of the economy and the world.  I get tearful if I see a cute puppy or a soldier or an elderly couple holding hands. For about 24-36 hours, I meet all the criteria for clinical depression, and probably a few for Intermittant Explosive Disorder. 

Believe it or not, it took me a few years to realize this is what happens to me every month.  It's called PMS.  And regardless of whether I do yoga, therapy, or nothing at all it disappears after a day.  Once I figured it out, I realized that interpretations I make during those days (life sucks, everything is stupid, I'm a failure) are completely suspect.  If I can remember what it is, I just don't get excited about the feelings-- I ride them out.

Moods are usually transient.  The really bad ones are deceptive in their intensity, as they somehow feel more real and more important than the good ones-- which are sadly also transient.  When they are persistent-- too high or too low too long-- they deserve investigation.  Otherwise, they deserve a cocked eyebrow, at most.

Today's practice:  Accept your emotions as they arise, and try not interpreting, judging or getting attached to them.  Mostly, try not to be really reactive to them.  Use this language:  I notice I am X.  I accept I feel X at this moment.

See what happens.

Related post:  You  Are Not Your Mood

Today's Video

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