Sometimes, when you’re feeling crappy, the hardest thing to do is to slow down and pay attention to what that feels like.
It’s like cleaning a cut after a bad fall. Cleaning the dirt and rocks out, and putting on neosporin, doesn’t feel nice. But you do it because the alternative, a wound that heals badly or becomes infected, is much worse.
You can think about your internal states in the same way. When you’re in a state of suffering, it’s like you’ve been wounded.
And the only way to heal yourself is to take care of it.
Sometimes, slowing down and paying attention to your emotions is the cure that you’re unsuccessfully seeking in your distraction techniques. Common distractions include food, sex, drugs, and social media to name a few. But there are many more distractions than just those, some of which you might not even realize when you’re doing them.
Distraction techniques distract you from feeling that which wants to be felt. They do not heal. The painful truth is that until you really experience that emotion fully, it’s not going to go away. It will literally live inside you, as an unexpressed feeling.
If you never effectively deal with your emotions, and you constantly distract yourself, those emotional states you’re trying to avoid will sadly grow to become a part of your personality.
That’s how some people grow to become resentful, angry, selfish, etc. kinds of people. They aren’t born that way. Babies aren’t born resentful. Being resentful is something people learn as they go through life (almost always unconsciously).
It’s not just resentment, either. This is the case with all emotions. The person you become, which is your presence, depends on the quality of your internal states. Over time, the feelings your experience day to day become the person that you are.
The good news it that it works both ways. Over time, if you cultivate positive internal states on a daily basis, you can become a generous, light, happy, etc. kind of person.
You’re going to become someone no matter what you decide to do. If you want the person you become to have different emotional experiences than you currently do (i.e. more grateful, generous, joyful, happy, etc.), that is totally possible. It just requires you to do the work.
You’re building your future self with the emotional states you carry today. If you want to arrive at a destination, it’s helpful to reverse-engineer it.
What kind of emotional state do you want to wake up in every day in 5 years?
Start working on becoming that person today by cultivating those states you want to feel. It doesn’t need to be a massive life shift, you can start making progress by cultivating a positive state for as little as a minute every day. Over time, it adds up.
Don’t wait to see you you become like it’s a game of roulette. Decide who you want to be, then make it happen.