Blowing things out of proportion

Imagine it’s Sunday night and you couldn’t leave your apartment today. Maybe because you weren’t feeling well, maybe because of the Covid restrictions. How do you feel at the end of the day? Defeated, frustrated, bitter. You wanted the weekend to be fun, filled with new experiences, meeting people, being places. Instead? You had to stay inside. So the night comes, you sigh as you cover yourself with a blanket, in bed, feeling disappointed. No gratefulness, no satisfaction…just defeat. Your mind prepares for rest while swimming in a pool of negative emotions.

I cannot help but ask: Is it wise? Ending on such a note is the mind state you wish to cultivate?

As I’ve decided to explore Buddhist teachings and listen to podcasts about transforming negative emotions and mindfulness, I’ve found answers. I feel closer to a broader understanding of thoughts and emotions. I find myself reaching Aha!moments, processing these teachings while I let myself be flooded with acceptance. Yes, acceptance is key.

When you don’t identify with the myriad of harmful emotions you experience – like disappointment, greed, doubt, jealousy, not being enough, sadness, frustration – you look at them from a place of awareness and a state of being awake. Yes, you notice them, they exist, but are they who you are? Is frustration what you are made of? Are anger or shame part of your character? If they are only states that are triggered under certain conditions, why let them linger? Why give them so much force and space to invade our well-being in such a way that they can ruin a whole day?

By simply noticing them and what caused them, we eliminate some of the burden. If this ideology is not convincing, let’s borrow from the Stoic mentality. When you zoom out of your problems, ask yourself this: are you generally healthy? Do you have a roof over your head? Do you have friends or people you love still alive, and in close connection with you? If the answer is yes, you are luckier than most people. You’ve survived the pandemic, you don’t suffer from hunger or a threatening environment. You are lucky and your life gives you access to opportunities.

I know negative emotions are draining and seductive too. Yes, it’s easy to identify with them and curse life for making everything against you, but, if you zoom out a little, it’s not that tragic. If you zoom out a little, are these conflicts as big as all to the suffering in the world? You can rewire your brain through acceptance by letting in the idea that life will constantly bring negative, harmful emotions. This way, you prepare yourself and maybe realise that it’s ok. You will live through them, they might toughen you but you are not those emotions. Don’t let them claim your life.

So why not discover the uplifting emotions? Why not linger on what brings you joy and express some gratitude at the end of the day? Try it, see what journey awaits for you there.

I’ve got the inspiration to write this blog post after listening to the Waking Up app, more precisely to the teachings of Joseph Goldstein. His audio recordings always calm me, and help me find answers that determine me to grow and be at peace.
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