How negative emotions turn into distractions

There are things in life that upset you and you have a right to have an emotional response to those situations. There are obstacles, situations, people, and events that disappoint you, frustrate you and make you angry. You should feel those feelings.

If you get pickpocketed while riding the train, of course, you’ll be upset. You’ll be confused about where your wallet is, then when you realize it’s missing, you’ll be furious.

If you slip and fall on the ice after a recent snowstorm, you’ll be embarrassed, likely, and perhaps a little bit upset with your neighbor who didn’t shovel their sidewalk like they were supposed to.

If you and your partner disagree and no one is willing to yield or budge on their stance, it’s likely the disagreement will get more and more heated until you’re both yelling at each other.

Getting upset is natural. We all do it. But here’s the question, what do you do with those heightened emotions after the heat of the moment?

You and your partner have stopped yelling, but you didn’t come to an agreement.

You know your wallet is gone and calling all the credit card companies to issue new card numbers doesn’t make you feel better.

You put a compress on your elbow after your collision with the ice, but that doesn’t soothe your anger.

What typically happens is we mull over these situations again and again and again. The mulling makes them bigger, more upsetting, and unsettling.

The neighbor who forgot to shovel his sidewalk suddenly becomes the most irresponsible person you’ve ever met and the elbow pain requires a doctor’s visit, because well, you just might sue.

You feel so violated after having your wallet stolen right from under you, you become suspicious of everyone on the train. In fact, now you hate the train when your rides used to be enjoyably filled with the sounds of your favorite podcast in your ears. But now all you do is sit, keep your personal items close and look out for thieves.

And your partner, well, you two haven’t spoken much since your heated argument. You only exchange the pleasantries and scheduling info on the kids. You sleep with your backs turned and family dinners have been quietly contentious.

Do you see what’s happened in all of these scenarios? There hasn’t been any resolution to the problems. No one is at peace. No one is over it. Everyone is feeling their feelings (as they have a right to do) as is natural. But how productive was it for each person to stay stuck in the emotions? What began as minor inconveniences to everyone’s day turned into problems.

This is when our emotions become distractions.

We always have two choices when we are faced with tension and conflict: we can shove or we can shine. When we shove, we push back on the circumstance with more negative emotion, more anger, more fear, more guilt, more doubt, more criticism. It’s the path of force. We keep the emotional temperature high and we stay upset and frustrated in some form or another.

When we shine, we recognize that we have something to learn from this conflict. It’s uncomfortable, yes, but it’s also a teacher. We can lean into the lesson, see ourselves more honestly, and make a plan for our personal improvement. We can choose to be better because we want to be better.

Shoving takes us down the path of distractions. Shining takes us through the doorway to growth.

To use an analogy of going on a cross-country road trip, shining keeps us on the highway, on the fastest and most efficient route to our destination. When you're shining, you stop at rest stops to fill up, grab a bite, take inventory of your supplies, check your map, and then you keep on moving. You never leave the highway because everything you need is along this route. Your journey is smoother, not without hiccups, but certainly not with extra self-induced strife.

Shoving is taking an off-road exit to travel the back roads without a map where you are likely to get lost. The journey will take far longer, will be far more treacherous and you'll feel ill-equipped to handle the ditches, potholes, and cliff-hugging turns. This path will be filled with drama. You'll run out of gas, food, and energy.

These backroads, just like accumulated negative emotion will always make us wonder, why is life so hard? Why does there seem to be one bad thing happening to me after another? Can’t I catch a break for goodness sake? No, you cannot and will not catch a break on the back roads of life. For remaining on them only leads to more pain and suffering.

The saving grace is that there are many opportunities to course-correct.

Each obstacle is a teacher and a warning sign that you’re doing something that you should not be doing because it isn’t serving you. You face problem after problem on the back-roads of life until you wake up and realize that you can stop. You can stop being mad at the pickpocketer, the neighbor, and your partner. You can let it go. When you stay upset about anything, the molehill annoyances turn into the seemingly insurmountable mountains and that in turn, puts you further away from your solutions. It also puts you further away from reaching your next personal milestone, be it better health, improved relationships, more money, balanced living, or a deeper connection to yourself. When your energy is entangled in problems you cannot find peace or your power.

There are many signs for you to return to the highway but because you’re so distracted - fixated on old and new problems - you didn't see them. It’s not until you hit you rock bottom, not until you run out of gas, food, and energy for the 50th, 100th, 1000th time, that you finally look up and see the promise of relief. An entrance onto a new path.

Will you take it?

With joy,
Selima

P.S. Need help learning how to let go? Schedule a Free Wellness Strategy Session below to see if you're a good fit to join us inside Herbal Medicine for the Soul. Enrollment is open and inside my program, you learn the skills of herbal medicine, emotional release, and resilience, as well as spiritual alignment in order to develop your own personal health care system and become your own healer.

In Herbal Medicine for the Soul, students have gotten off medications, reversed debilitating symptoms, reduced chronic pain, resolved traumas, and started their holistic businesses.⁣

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