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Feeling Sadness: Creating Space to Heal.

Feeling Sadness: Creating Space to Heal.

Sadness is an emotion that any human and likely every other being on this planet experiences. To most, including myself, the feeling of sadness is an emotional experience that would rather not be had than had.

Either way feeling sadness is immensely important for adapting to our lives in responsible and healthy ways. Here is a take on getting the most of it.

What is Sadness.

As far as the physiological processes in the brain and body in regards to sadness I do not know. What I do know is the way the emotion feels, when I am actively working with it. I also know the stress I feel when I am distracting myself from it.

Sadness in my mind is inextricably linked to the experience of loss. That loss may be because of a change in relationship with loved ones, deaths, crushed hopes and expectations. As well as seeing the hardships of those we love and even strangers. It is an essential piece in the grieving process. Sometimes the source of the sadness is clearly seen. But just as often for me I can’t tell why the sadness is present.

This emotion is not to be confused with depression, even though persistent feelings of sadness are a definite symptom for a depressed individual. No, sadness is it’s own beautiful, sometimes pain in the ass experience. It is a normal human response to undesired change. ACTUALLY feeling this emotion has been pivotal in recovering my life.

Sadness allows connection to the moment by letting go of what is no longer real, or what no longer can safely be continued. It requires surrendering our thoughts about how our realities should be so we can see how they actually are. This process may range from aggravatingly painful to eerily enjoyable. But even though the process can be painful, the pain of unproductive stress and extra life problems of fighting it is much greater.

For me there is no responsible adaptation to change without letting go and allowing myself to be vulnerable to feeling sad. Without feeling our sadness there is no healing, there is no healthy grieving. Which inevitably leaves us with unfinished emotional business to deal with later down the road of our lives.

The Relationship Between Sadness and Anger.

The relationship between sadness and anger can make surrendering to sadness tricky. It sometimes seems as if the two emotions don’t get to be in the same room together. Though at a closer look a healthy relationship can be had between one another.

The emotion of anger is an energy that compels us to make creative action happen. We can do this in healthy ways, or not so healthy ways. Depending on how much emotional pain is involved, ability to cope, and willingness to bend the rules of society.

Anger is also a protector, it protects hopes, expectations, our bodies, our self-image, and of course our relationships. If any of these is harmed, pain is felt and our anger seeks to rectify the situation. Sometimes the use of anger can be productive in bringing about a positive outcome. Though other times we can take it too far, causing even more pain to be felt once we slow down and reconnect with our saner selves.

To feel sadness is to be processing this emotional pain. But even though this process that heals the pain can be mistaken as the source of the pain itself. So our anger may end up protecting us from our own healing process. The truth is that the pain was already present, and probably fueling all sorts of unproductive anger, fear, and resentment.

Sadness is the experience that creates healing. The healthy relationship between anger and sadness is developed when we can teach ourselves to not use our anger to run from our pain. And learn to use our anger to set healthy boundaries to create a safe space for the healing process to work it’s magic.

Important Things to Remember When Surrendering to Healing Sadness.

When surrendering into our sadness there are all sorts of things that make it difficult. To make sure we are able to convince ourselves and our anger that it is okay to let go there are some important things to remind ourselves of.

1. This Emotion isn’t Going to Feel Itself.

Putting off feeling our emotions has negative consequences for all aspects of our health. We may try to convince ourselves that we are okay without feeling this uncomfortable thing. It’s as if we think the emotion will magically take care of itself. It will take care of itself but not until we sit with it and allow it to process. Only we can set aside the time and find a safe place, only we can let our sadness heal the broken pieces.

2. We are Safe.

Of course there are individuals in the world that are literally fighting physical safety almost all the time. For me and most likely many of you reading this, there are plenty of safe places to get to.

Our brains may be convinced that surrendering to the moment isn’t the safe thing to do. It would rather have our head on a swivel, paying attention to every other thing in our minds or surroundings. Sometimes our brains need to do this. But we cannot go on like this for too long, the internal consequences from neglected feelings is too great. But the only way to settle the brain down is to convince it that this moment is safe and we can let go.

Even though allowing sadness allows the feeling of pain. The source of the pain is likely long gone in the past. When feeling gets rough, I remind myself that this moment is not trying to harm me and that feeling this emotion is only going to bring a better life.

3. The World can Take Care of Itself for a little bit.

There are many responsibilities in living a productive life. I know this now more than ever with a new mortgage and a 7 month old beautiful girl. But even when in a position to not have to take care of these relationships, my mind still does it. All these responsibilities can become a distraction in the moments that we should be allowing ourselves time to heal.

What I tell myself in these moments is that these relationships are safe without me for a moment. This is my time to heal and make sure I am in the best possible health for them in the long run.

4. Feeling is Not Weakness.

There is a strength that comes from feeling our emotions that cannot be gotten anywhere else. Feeling emotion provides mental and emotional flexibility. It allows us to not snap when the littlest things in our lives don’t go our way.

Many of us spend years running from feeling, this to me is the true weakness. Settling in and confronting the emotional pain in ourselves is courageous, not weak.

5. It is Okay to Cry and Okay to not Cry.

There is an immensely important quality in allowing tears to happen. But this is not to say that tears need to be had to feel emotion.

I am the kind of person that can get emotion out in this way privately. Other people are much more open with their tears than I am. Whatever way you find to get some tears out, as long as it isn’t hurting ourselves or others, is cool in my book.

So dudes, you aren’t a punk if you let a few tears out!

In Summary

Allowing ourselves to feel sad can be an incredibly difficult thing to do. Surrendering to sadness can feel like giving up. And in a sense it is.

Surrendering to feeling our sadness is giving up what isn’t real, it is giving up trying to control what we cannot. It is also our healthy way into finding out what we can control and what is real.

I don’t know about you but I have spent far too many moment running from reality. It angers me to know how much energy I have wasted protecting myself from my healing process. This anger is good though, I can use it to be a loving but stern voice as I attempt to run away from myself in the future. I get to use it to help me grow.

I invite you to do the same. If you are caught up in anger, or finding other ways to numb yourself from emotion, please stop. Set aside some time, create a sacred space to do some feeling. You will not regret it.

Thank you so much for stopping in to My Life Experiment today. If you enjoyed what you read then I would love for you to do a couple things for us!

  1. Please Like and leave a comment below.
  2. Share this article on your social media.
  3. Join our email list, which will get you a copy of our Therapeutic Writing Guide, and have our new articles sent directly to your email.
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Much Love, Travis Hagen

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Healing Depression: Recovering our Repressed Creative Energy.

Healing Depression: Recovering our Repressed Creative Energy.

Depression is a familiar state of being for many individuals in the world. I have visited this state many times. And no doubt you are close to someone or are someone for whom depression is a danger for.

The “World Health Organization estimates that more than 300 million people worldwide suffer from depression. It’s also the world’s leading cause of disability.” This is what a healthline.com article reports.

With my tendency leading to becoming another one of those more than 300 million people, this is how I keep myself not depressed and continuing on with living a successful life.

A View on Depression.

Psychologist Sigmund Freud referred to depression as “anger turned inward.” But what does that mean?

In My Life Experiment’s last article we described anger as an expression of our creative energy attempting to break free from resistances.

The more of our energy that doesn’t find it’s way into the world through us, the more aggressive the energy becomes. And the more aggressive we may become.

Now there are many ways to dysfunctionally attempt to express aggression. It can be taken out on others in a way that produces more shame and anger toward ourselves. Or we can just skip the middle man and take it out directly on ourselves.

Whichever way our angry energies don’t find a way out they will still begin or continue the growth of a depressive cycle.

Too Hard on Ourselves?

On many occasions while navigating my way through a chemical addicted life, people would tell me the same thing. “Travis, you are way too hard on yourself.” And honestly, I couldn’t even comprehend what that meant.

It is as if the hyper self-critical voice inside of my head was so convinced that life could only be an anxious mess that I couldn’t even see that I couldn’t comprehend what lightening up was.

I understand the problem for myself now though. I was stuck. Stuck in a cycle that never ended up releasing the powerful energies that grew inside.

Almost all the ways I found to help ease the inner tension, were dysfunctional and bore very little helpful fruit. Yet all the dysfunctional ways found themselves to be much easier than the healthy.

Many individuals in this world have either never found out how or have forgotten how to be healthy and happy. It is a sad thing to realize how many people are stuck on being too hard on themselves. But thankfully I know there is a way out, mainly because I have found mine.

Depression Man

Turning the Volume Down on Depression.

With a state called Depression it would seem that there shouldn’t be all that much mental activity happening. But I for one know that in a depressed state, the mind is painfully loud. I say painfully because the messages being repeated are about all of the unfinished emotional business that has built up over the years.

Every ended relationship, passed love one, thing that wasn’t said or was said, and unmet expectation, desires all of our attention. Desiring it so badly that it feels almost impossible to think of something else.

The pain and built up anger fuels the harshness of the internal voice. It desires to be heard so badly as if it is a victim of bodily torture saying anything to find a way out of its present moment.

I paint a desperate internal situation here because it certainly can be. But even though, there are certainly ways out of this seemingly hopeless situation.

But there is hope and the volume can be turned down. It may seem impossible but I believe that is depression doing the talking.

More on Depression and How to Turn the Volume Down.

Before I show you a list on how to turn the volume down on depression I first need to tell you that these are only my personal insights. Though I find them to be true and helpful, they are not a prescription from a trained professional.

Also it is important to know that depression and sadness are nowhere near the same thing. Sadness is a normal emotion, and to me is very important to healing and moving on with our lives. And even though constant feelings of sadness are a symptom of depression, depression is it’s own beast altogether. For more on the symptoms of depression and difference between depression and sadness check out this Healthline.com article.

Lastly it is important to know that there are different types of depression. Some forms of depression are more situational and may be easier to find our ways out of. Others are clinical and are more persistent than situational types. Both types are serious and need immediate attention. For more information on the difference between situational and clinical depression check this article out.

Now on to our list for getting on top of depression and turning the volume down.

1.Talk to a Trained Professional.

If you are feeling deeply depressed or don’t know if you are simply feeling sad more often than usual, please get your yourself checked out.

A trained professional can help ease the pain of all that pent up energy. They may prescribe a medication, give advice about taking care of ourselves and just as importantly as both of those, give us an judgment free zone to express feelings. Though even if we visit a professional we are the ones that have to put in all the hard work.

2. Follow the Doctors Orders.

So you went to see a trained professional and they gave you some ideas for taking care of yourself. I advise to do them. By visiting a professional you have already admitted there is a problem that you didn’t have an answer to. Many of us don’t want to feel controlled by the orders of a trained professional. We may think they are just trying to make money off of us, or numb out our creative potential by giving us drugs. And maybe on some occasions this may be the truth but for the most part they create a safer atmosphere for healing than we can conjure alone.

There may also be shame and self-anger involved in not being able to fend for ourselves and needing the support of another. But just remember. Who made the visit to the professional? And who is deciding to go along with the prescribed plan? Nobody is being forced into anything here. Though I definitely gained a great deal by not fighting the suggestions that were offered to me throughout my mental health recovery.

For my recovery, I took meds when they were needed. Later on when in a very good place I decided that I wanted to see what life was like without them. I went to the Dr. and expressed my desire to wean off. They said that it was worth a shot, so we came up with a plan to come off of them safely.

Depression community3. Join a Community of Healthy Like Minded Individuals.

As a recovering addict a huge part of the health of my being has been showing up to 12 step recovery fellowship. In this fellowship I have found my wife, a mentor, many friends, and helpful acquaintances. These people have helped me expose my anger and have supported me as I find new ways to express my energy.

My family has also been crucially important and can also play the role of a helpful community. Though I feel I have learned how to be a healthy part of that dynamic by having a large fellowship in recovery to spread my energy through. Many individuals that suffer from depression have a painful dynamic with family. Having a larger community to be a part of can relieve the stress and pain that the family might go through as we recover.

Please find your way into a 12 step program, a church ,a large group of close knit friends and family, or all the above. Being connected to these healthy supports can help us navigate our way through depression. And our continued connection with them will help whenever the symptoms of depression rear their ugly head once again.

4. Get on the Path of Self-Discovery.

It is easy to become completely disconnected from who we are as human beings. From birth we are told who we are and what we should believe. As life goes on the battle with self continues as we judge ourselves against the paths of others and think less of ourselves as a result. Coming back home to who we are is of the utmost importance. Although it is a path with many heavy emotions, it is also the path opening up our repressed energy to find it’s way into the world.

In my recovery I have done this by sharing about myself in hundreds of recovery meetings and many hours of one on one work with a trusted mentor.

There are ways I have gotten more in touch with myself that don’t actually require other peoples input as well. Meditation has been a very important part of getting in touch with my body. Another immensely important part of my recovery today is what I call Therapeutic Writing. Here is a link to check out the Therapeutic Writing process I use to get in touch with what I am feeling and find out more about myself.

By discovering more about ourselves we can find out what behaviors only fuel anger, shame and depression. Then we can finally leave these behaviors that don’t work for our spirits, behind. As well as come to understand what new behaviors would work better for us. Whatever way you end up learning about yourself, get on it immediately.

5. Stay Active with Multiple Hobbies.

As we leave our old Depression causing ways behind, we need new outlets for our energy. As human beings we have far too much creative energy to just be wasting it. Whether that means finding new hobbies or getting in touch with hobbies we enjoyed in the past we need to be using them as an outlet. Not finding outlets for our energy will only enhance Depression.

To me a hobby is simply an outlet for our energy. So whether you hit the gym, hang out with friends, read, under water basket weave, or whatever get busy with them. That is unless your hobbies are harmful to yourself or others. In that case, please find some new hobbies!

6. Find Ways to Give Back.

In recovery I have been able to get in touch with and release a great deal of that built up creative energy that was fueling depression, anxiety and obsession. There is soo much repressed energy that lies latent inside a depressed individual. Finding ways to use this energy for the individuals that have helped us when we couldn’t help ourselves can be extremely gratifying. It can also be very rewarding to help those who are currently unable to do much for themselves.

We can give back to a community that helps us, our family, our career or society as a whole. Helping others is an important piece of staying aware of our importance in the world. All of that energy that has been locked inside of our bodies for years may be pleased that is getting used for something meaningful.

Keep up the Fight. Whether you Battle Depression or Simply Desire to Feel Better.

Depression Strong CoffeeIt is important to understand that we need to stay grounded and in the moment to maintain our mental and emotional health. This is something that the above things on this list will help you do. But it is also very important to remember that us individuals that have become acquainted with depression, risk relapse when getting too comfortable. We must remember that recovery and maintaining a healthy, happy and content life requires a commitment to find healthy avenues for our creative energies.

When we don’t feel so hot, we must keep moving forward. Also when we are feeling on top of the world we need to continue moving forward as well. We must never give up, vigilance is key in maintaining our own sanity.

Just navigating the world is tough enough as it is for the average human being. I believe anybody can benefit from the message and tips we have given here today.

So whether you are prone to depression or not, stay strong your life is worth fighting for.

 

Thank you so much for stopping in to My Life Experiment today. If you enjoyed what you read then I would love for you to do a couple things for us!

  1. Please Like and leave a comment below.
  2. Share this article on your social media.
  3. Join our email list, which will get you a copy of our Therapeutic Writing Guide, and have our new articles sent directly to your email.
  4. Follow our Facebook Page!

Much Love, Travis Hagen

Anger: An Unsung Emotion for Moving Forward.

Anger: An Unsung Emotion for Moving Forward.

Anger has a bit of a bad reputation. And many of us do not have a healthy relationship with anger but it is never too late to turn that around. We can develop a healthy relationship with the emotion and learn how to use the energy it carries in healthy ways. In ways that will free our healthy ambitions, enhance mental health, and lead us to our best lives possible.

So What is Anger?

I believe that at the very heart of anger is a being’s ambitious and creative energy seeking to find it’s way. When the energy doesn’t find it’s way into the world, it gets built up. This only generates more persistence to find liberation from the resistances against it. It means more anger to push us to get moving.

Anger is not necessarily a pleasant energy to deal with. It is also not an energy that will be easily ignored. It is not just going to go away. At first these angry thoughts and impulses may gently ask for our attention. With the asking turning to forceful demands as we neglect to respond and take action.

When we don’t take the actions we need to for too long the energy may take action into it’s own hands. It may create all sorts of problems internally and with our relationships.

The Battle with my Anger.

Anger Face

I would love to say that my history with anger has been rooted in nothing but healthy expression of the emotion. But no, it has been loaded with dysfunction and pain.

I had no clue that I simply had an abundance of creative energy that had no where to go.

Because of my lack of awareness of the crazy amount of energy in me and the anger I developed I damaged or destroyed many relationships and opportunities for success. It wasn’t until I began my journey of recovery that I began healing relationships and learning about the source of my anger. As well as doing work to heal the past that exists inside of myself.

Today, the ways I deal with my anger has mostly entered the world of the sane. My anger only sneaks in and causes problems once in awhile, and to a much lesser degree than in the past. Because over the years I have found a new way to live.

Lessening the Danger in Anger.

The danger in anger is clear. I am sure we all know someone or have been someone who has spilled this energy out in ways that cause embarrassment, humiliation, relationship loss or even jail time.

Dealing with anger irresponsibly doesn’t process the emotion. And unprocessed energy in anger leads to excess stress, anxiety, and diminished mental health

The Buddha likened holding onto anger to “holding onto hot coals.” So in order to process it we must find healthy ways to let this sometimes painful energy find its way out of us and into the world. To me this doesn’t mean that any form of acting on or communicating anger is harmful. But we do need to find the right ways.

In this study individuals were asked to respond in an either aggressive or non-aggressive way to a situation. The researchers wanted to see if either way of responding would  lessen the amount of anger felt in those individuals. The study found that not acting did a better job of lessening anger than trying to vent the anger aggressively.

The findings may run contrary to what our anger might tell us will work to release our tension. Anger may say I better yell at this person because they pissed me off. It might also say I need to quit this job because I don’t like the way the boss looked at me. There are an endless supply of probably dangerously silly decisions the thoughts that go along with anger can lead us to make.

Healthy Ways to Deal with Anger.

The study above may have said that not acting did a better job than acting aggressively. Though doing nothing too often, can lead us to being pushovers or to be in denial of issues we need to deal with. And acting out on anger in rash ways usually causes more problems than we started with. So what is the answer here?

We have compiled a list of healthy ways of dealing with the possibly misguided thoughts and impulses of being angry that don’t involve aggression or doing nothing. We hope they can help you process your anger and develop a better relationship with it.

1. Don’t make hasty decisions.

Far too often when I am feeling angry I think that something needs to be done right here and right now. Though more often than not, taking actions in haste when angry has created unnecessary problems.

If you are angry and the job, spouse or whatever else is the target of those possibly violent thoughts, please take some deep breathes and don’t quit. Don’t abandon the relationship just yet. Our judgment may be clouded and we need to step back to find out what is REAL! Then if you find out you actually are being taken advantage of then find a healthy way to leave or stay.

2. Chat with trusted friends.

After holding off on making quick decisions while too pissed off, allow a close friend to chat with. A trusted friend can help us calm down and may help us see the next course of action. But remember too much venting with the friend may actually not make things better so try and keep a cool head.

Keeping a cool head with your trusted people will allow them to give more sound advice. Otherwise they may just be pressured into agreeing with angry demands.

3. Do some Therapeutic Writing.

A lot of the time when I am angry I will turn to therapeutic writing. This is a process that has helped me keep from making many silly angry decisions. I sit down with pen, paper and calming music. I write to find my responsibility, not to simply vent my frustrations. I seek real feeling, and healing.

Sometimes simply jotting down a bunch of things I am grateful does great things for slowing my anger down.

4. Let go of Some Expectations.

The World not meeting my expectations for it can be a great source of my anger. This definitely isn’t to say that all expectations are unnecessary. Though some can be realistic and others just setting ourselves up to be pissed off. It is good to take a break from what we are doing and examine our expectations for ourselves and others when angry. Then we can let go of those expectations that are reasonable to let of.

5. Get some Exercise.

It always amazes me what a half hour pushing it hard on the elliptical can do for my anger and stress levels. By exercising, anger gets a nice outlet, though I recommend not thinking too angry of thoughts while working out. Then it just becomes an aggressive outlet which as I said above may be less effective than doing nothing.

Here is an article of “10 Exercises to Help Reduce Anger.”

6. Meditate.

When attempting meditation in an angry state, it may take a little time for the mind to slow down. There will be likely be a phase where meditating is the last we want to do. Our thoughts and energy may scream at us to get up and quit this stupid silence crap. Soon that voice and those impulses will subside and we will be returned to a more sensible state.

There have been many meditations that have completely melted away that anger I was once feeling. It is one of the most freeing feelings I have experienced.

7. Take a Nap.

Sometimes a nap may help immensely. Although naps may not be the easiest thing to have for someone that lives a busy life. Just a little nap can help me settle down the emotion I am feeling. This can give me a better perspective on what I currently see as a problem. And if the issue does need attention, I now may have a little more energy to take care of it!

8. Get a Bite to Eat.

I find it crazy to think about how many times I have gotten angry from things that seem like no real big deal then go have a bite to eat and have the aggression just melt away. Getting hangry is a real thing. So who knows maybe your not mad that an individual called you the wrong name at work, you may just be hungry!

9. Take Some Time to Stretch.

I am not talking about doing a bunch of yoga poses or anything like that! Sitting too much throughout the day builds up excess tension in the body. And for me tension and anger go hand in hand with one another. Just taking a little bit of time to bend down to touch my toes and stretch my back goes a long way to help me get some relief from feeling angry. It takes no time at all but I don’t remember a time my body didn’t appreciate it.

10. Pray.

Taking some time out to thank a higher power can help lift the stress of anger. Whether you believe in god, a helpful universe, your subconscious or whatever. Stopping to ask for some assistance or to express gratitude can be a productive solution.

The Creative in Anger.

creative anger

The list above is meant to get us back into a state of mind that isn’t having us controlled by our anger. It is to get us back in control of ourselves. When we are back in control of ourselves, we are much less likely to make destructive decisions. We will be in a position to allow that energy that is coursing through our bodies to do something productive.

Anger often leads the way in my creative process. I work on something, which could be anything complex, then I get confused. Then I get frustrated, and then pissed. After I use some of the healthy ways of dealing with my anger off the list above, I generally find myself feeling something and then moving on. Dealing with my anger in healthy ways has healed and enhanced relationships and brought me success I once never thought possible.

Anger is full of creative energy. Once we can get our thoughts and impulses under the guidance of our more sane self we can use them and the energy to create responsibly.

My relationship with my anger is not always a comfortable one. But I feel life isn’t meant for staying comfortable. Life is meant for creativity and growth, and anger will help us blaze new trails that will lead to amazing opportunities.

So I ask you today. If you are scared of your anger or are misusing it in ways that are hurting yourself and others, please join me in developing a healthy relationship with anger. Your stress levels and mental health will appreciate your decision. And you just may find that the deepest parts of yourself are using it to help you find the best your life can be.

Thank you so much for stopping in to My Life Experiment today. If you enjoyed what you read then I would love for you to do a couple things for us!
  1. Please Like and leave a comment below.
  2. Share this article on your social media.
  3. Join our email list, which will get you a copy of our Therapeutic Writing Guide, and have our new articles sent directly to your email.
  4. Follow our Facebook Page!

Much Love, Travis Hagen

Quit Numbing Your Ambitious Energy.

Quit Numbing Your Ambitious Energy.

I have found that to keep my mental health in check I need to be dreaming up new goodies for my life. Needing to do this because of the great deal of ambitious energy that naturally seeks to create in my world through me. Neglecting to use this energy brings pain, and a desire to numb out and escape this pain. Though numbing out this pain may temporarily help with the pain, it also has other undesirable consequences.

My Painful History of Numbing out Dreams.

I remember when I was in the heart of being a using addict. There was a paralyzed feeling when it came to attempting anything that may better my life. This came from years of letting myself and others down. For me, to dream was to come face to face with the reality of how hopeless I felt.

This also happened before using chemicals ever came into the picture. Though early on it wasn’t such a paralyzed feeling. There was a level of resistance that grew over time.

When I first began using I thought I found the solution. It felt magical. I found myself not caring as much about being awkward in social situations. And not caring as much about letting others down. Though as the years went on, the using escalated and my hopes and dreams began passing me by, one by one. Using was the best I could do to not go crazy from the stress of not living my ambitions

In the end the amount of using that needed to happen to keep the stress dampened, destroyed my body from the inside out. Numbing out the stress of my unlived ambition didn’t make the stress go away it only gave me more to work on once I stopped.

Ways of Numbing and Escaping Ourselves.

I have been clean and in recovery from addiction for a decade now, but still find myself trying to escape reality on the daily. From what I see, much of society seeks to escape reality compulsively on the daily.

In the last My Life Experiment article we touched on the importance of setting aside time for relaxation. The troublesome thing is that these same methods that may be used for relaxation, can very easily turn into methods for numbing ourselves to current unwanted emotions.

Be it social media, Netflix, day dreaming, thinking, partying, reading, shopping, self righteousness, worry, sex, sarcasm, anger, etc etc.. The list goes on in on. My sponsor in recovery likes to say that a person can become addicted to anything they can do more than once. I tend to agree.

Maybe not all methods of numbing and emotional escapism have as severe consequences as the way I used chemicals, but they all have undesired consequences.

The Balance Between Relaxation and Escapism.

Numbing Escapism

A big consequence is having life thrown off balance. When binge watching the latest series on Netflix I am not doing all sorts of important things I could be taking care of. When staring at my phone too often I am not getting as much time with my relationships. So in turn missing out on new opportunities to grow and experiment with life.

Whenever a tool for relaxation interferes with other healthy desires too often, I know I am likely trying to escape and not just relax.

I get it though, it is important to take ourselves off the grid throughout the day. Whether that be a little day dreaming, checking the phone, or having a good laugh with a friend. I don’t believe we as human beings are supposed to be ultra productive every moment of our lives. That idea makes me cringe a little when I think of it.

So how can we know when we are Escaping rather than relaxing? There are some questions we can ask ourselves.

  • Am I spending too much time doing this activity?
  • Are there any important decisions I am putting off?
  • Is there fear I am experiencing?
  • Do I feel like I am avoiding conversations with others?
  • Are my nerves on particularly high alert?

If these questions prove to ring true then there is probably some numbing out to escape reality going on. So it would be a helpful idea to take care of the problem area these questions are alluding to.

Seek Feeling Not Numbing.

It seems that some of the numbing we seek is to escape the fear of the future. Others to escape painful feelings of the past.

There are a couple things the past and future have in common. First of all they do not exist, either anymore or not yet. Second, the only time the emotions about them exist is in the present moment.

The present is also the only place we can seek to escape them, as well as the only place that we can feel them. But we cannot feel them when compulsively seeking relief from them.

We need to slow down, let go and be vulnerable. Once we are able to calm our nerves, and feel what we need to feel we can get back to the moment. Then we can get our thoughts and bodies back in healthy relationship with our ambitious energy.

We all have our histories that have grief, trauma and many other painful emotions. Getting in touch them is the only productive thing to do with them. Running away from them is not. They always catch up eventually. Attempts to escape them are fruitless, they don’t have to hunt us down like in the movies. They are right inside of us.

Feeling Not Numbing

Finding New Ways of Living.

Feeling these emotions is not enough though. Getting in touch with our ambition is not enough either. We need to decide to use this energy in a productive way.

When I entered recovery, I had all sorts of dysfunctional ways of behaving. I would guess that you are likely in a better position than I was. But even I was able to and continue to latch onto healthy new ways of behaving.

This requires letting go of the ways we waste our time and seek too much comfort from our ambition. Then both finding new friendships, hobbies, ideas to study and skills to learn. And most importantly finding better ways to bring value to the relationships we currently have.

There is no shortage of ways to be creative in our own little worlds. So my advice is to spread the energy around to many different areas. I would tell you what you should go have fun with but only you can figure out what brings you both challenge and pleasure for yourself. Have fun my friend!

Thank you so much for stopping in to My Life Experiment today. If you enjoyed what you read then I would love for you to do a couple things for us!

  1. Please Like and leave a comment below.
  2. Share this article on your social media.
  3. Join our email list, which will get you a copy of our Therapeutic Writing Guide, and have our new articles sent directly to your email.
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Much Love, Travis Hagen

 

 

 

Relaxation is Our Own Responsibility.

Relaxation is Our Own Responsibility.

Life can be go go go far too often. The mind moving from one thing to the next, non-stop and habitually. My brain in particular cannot handle this type of activity for long. It has been immensely important for me to set aside time for Relaxation.

Balance Between Stress and Relaxation?

It is important to have a certain amount of stress in our lives to pump energy into our daily affairs. Though it is easy to go from a healthy amount to a territory of stress that will inhibit being productive.

According to the Yerkes-Dodson Law, “performance increases with physiological or mental arousal, but only up to a point. When levels of arousal become too high, performance decreases.” The law asserts that stress is only helpful when it is in a range that is not too low and not too high. Not too little stress because then there will not be enough energy to keep us engaged with an activity. And not too high of stress because then our nerves may get in the way of us being productive and successful.

There is a balancing act to be played with when it comes to how much we should relax and how much we should be amped up. This isn’t always easy with the world running at the speed it goes at today.

Balance Relaxation

The World wants a lot of Us.

To be honest the world in general wants a lot out of each and every one of us. I am not saying that it seeks to keep us amped up, but does a damn good job of doing this. When it comes to finding the balance between stress and relaxation, the balance must come from our own efforts. The world wants our time and energy and we must decide how much of them it gets.

Relaxation is on me, people generally won’t let me know I need to relax until I am showing significant signs of fatigue. If I am getting too amped up with anger someone will say “maybe it is time to chill out man”! And when the bags under my eyes are hanging way low someone will ask, ” Hey, you look wrecked.”

This isn’t me complaining about how the world divvies out expectations, only saying I’m responsible to ensure I’m relaxing enough.

Relaxation Isn’t Always Easy.

Relaxing my mind after being busy can be like a full speed freight train putting on the breaks and stopping. It can take a mile or more for the train to come to a halt. The same goes for my mind when I am attempting relaxation. When too amped up and trying to relax, my mind has to go through a laundry list of items to process. The laundry list isn’t good or bad, my brain just needs to process it.

My biggest problem with relaxation is attachment to electronic devices. In my car the radio is on, I get home and Netflix gets turned on, and the cellphone is a formidable adversary to my mind taking a nice break. The problem is that when I have time designated for relaxation, the time is filled with a further flood of information from the devices. While my brain is supposed to be processing existing info and emotions, the new info being brought in is getting in the way of the process, creating even more to be processed!

I don’t know how many relaxation sessions have turned into scrolling through Facebook. A half hour into the scroll session I find myself angry and overwhelmed and don’t really know why! Well I know why, I just flooded my brain and it was counterproductive to my relaxation!

This isn’t even an argument against Facebook or other social media, I find them very useful for different purposes. But once again RELAXATION IS ON ME. The World is not set up to have me turn away from it. It wants attention!

Relaxation Requires Commitment.

Without a doubt our own relaxation is on ourselves. Once and awhile an angel of a person will come along and say “you need to rest my child”. But those encounters are few and far between, so I cannot wait around for them!

Relaxation requires commitment, and commitment to a plan nonetheless. Here are some tips to help plan out a successful relaxation session.

1. Set Aside Time for Relaxation.

Without Setting aside the time for relaxation we are doomed from the start. Write the time into the schedule, if possible make it a routine time every week. This can save the stress and complaining of not knowing when we will be able to relax. It is okay to set aside our time for ourselves.

2. Learn how to say NO!

The World around us has limitless responsibilities to offer us. If we don’t say No to the offers that would take our relaxation time away, we will give the time away. This means more stress and lost opportunity to relax! That is unless the opportunity gives more relaxation than what I was already going to be doing. It is okay to say NO!

3. Use the Devices Wisely.

A lot of the time, my devices get in the way of my relaxation and they need to disappear for me to relax. Though there are also ways in which my devices may enhance the amount of relaxation I feel. Sometimes I can find a good song that comforts me, or a good movie that invokes important emotion. Hell I even used an app called Insight Timer to help me meditate more regularly. So if devices can be used to enhance the relaxation process or help us feel an emotion, I say that is a good use of them.

4. People Find Relaxation in Different Sources.

What is relaxing to me may not be relaxing to you. Whether you find relaxation in fishing, meditating, napping, getting a manicure, taking a long drive or whatever else, then awesome. Find these sources of relaxation and put them in the routine as fast as possible, to find balance in a hectic world.

Relaxation Is on Ourselves.

Relaxation Responsibility

If there is anything I wanted to It is that RELAXATION IS ON OURSELVES. I cannot relax for you and you cannot relax for me. Our families, our spouses, our friends may help in the process sometimes but they cannot force us to relax!

You are worth setting aside some time to chill out and process what is needed to be process and get in touch with the present. It is rewarding and crucial that you and I find time to do so.

Be busy when you need to be. Find relaxation when needed as well. When we find the balance between the two in this crazy busy world, life is a beautiful thing.

Thank you so much for stopping in to My Life Experiment today. If you enjoyed what you read then I would love for you to do a couple things for us!

  1. Please Like and leave a comment below.
  2. Share this article on your social media.
  3. Join our email list, which will get you a copy of our Therapeutic Writing Guide, and have our new articles sent directly to your email.
  4. Follow our Facebook Page!

Much Love, Travis Hagen

 

 

 

 

Lessening Suffering By Being Teachable.

Lessening Suffering By Being Teachable.

In the last 10 years that I have been in recovery from addiction, a certain principle has been immensely important to my success. That principle is remaining TEACHABLE.

My History with Being Teachable.

This guys history with being teachable before recovery is a horribly checkered one.

I don’t remember much of being really young. But as far as I can look back on life I could see that my mind was generally closed to what people had to teach.

In school I was a destructive class clown. At home I was kind of an entitled little brat. Though now I do understand that I was doing the best I could with what I had. Though for some reason my brain was naturally obstinate, refusing most information that people need to get by in a law abiding world.

This type of attitude toward letting people teach me only intensified. Though when I find out mind altering chemicals would help me escape the jabbering of every ones teachings I fell in love. Finally I didn’t seem to have to care. Also many people that would have tried to teach me pretty much gave up trying as well. Heaven right?

What seemed to me like heaven was actually unknowingly signing me up for a rough damn ride through life.

By the time I was able to enter recovery and get my act together, I had made an incredible mess of my existence. Being closed off to the world teaching me how to live life only gained me increasing amounts of suffering.

Ledge Teachable

Why Be Teachable?

This is something you must answer for yourself. For me I allow myself to be teachable because I have made the decision to never cause myself the suffering I once felt. Who in their right minds desires suffering?

That is also the point! When we excessively close ourselves off from the healthy thoughts of others, suffering generally increases.

I believe that is because there is something within all of us that strives to expand, grow and create. But we cannot use solely our own information to grow in the ways that are desired. We need the successes and the support of the thoughts and emotions of others to get where our bodies instinctualy desire to go.

I also need other people’s info because they see things I may not be seeing. And paraphrasing Buddha here, “suffering comes from being unaware of the causes of suffering.” Without other people’s info I’m susceptible to walking into the causes of suffering ill-prepared and ready to get beat on.

The only way to get the quality of life that I most deeply desire is to allow other people to teach me how to get it. That means showing me where to go as well as where not to go.

Being Teachable can go too Far.

To be teachable doesn’t mean that we are just be blown around by other people’s information. It doesn’t mean that we blindly accept ideas and run with them. But it does mean that if I feel the truth of some information, even if it goes against my beliefs, that I take it seriously.

Being teachable does require that we be open to have our minds changed. But not to the extent that we are left with a whole mess of ideas that we feel we are “supposed” to believe, instead of ones we feel to be true. Every human being needs to have a belief system to help the world make sense. So my motto is question everything, but not so often as to have the world make no sense at all. 

Of course it doesn’t mean we allow ourselves to be taken advantage either. I generally believe that the vast majority of individuals in this world are good. But there are those who seek to take advantage of those that are not well-versed in certain areas of expertise.

So remain teachable but don’t allow yourself be taken advantage. Also don’t view every person that offers information, as someone that is attempting to manipulate. It is all about balance.

How to become more Teachable.

To be teachable means to be opened up to the information around us. It requires momentarily dropping our judgments about what is being taught, opening our minds and listening.

Being teachable means being active in human relationship. Whether the information comes from conversations with people we chat with, a book someone wrote or a YouTube video we watch. For me, the day just didn’t feel right if I didn’t pick up some valuable new information from whatever source it comes from.

Here is how I keep Myself more healthily teachable:

  • Make sure I am in a healthy emotional place.
  • Seek reputable sources to be taught from.
  • Remind myself that I am seeking to be taught before I will be presented with new information.
  • Drop my judgments about new information until after all the info has been presented.
  • Limit distractions like trying to multi task with a cell phone or other things that keep our minds busy.
  • Make eye contact and actually listen.

A Life Opened up and Healed by Being Teachable.

In the beginning of the article I described my life of being teachable. I did not know how to be taught by healthy sources and that led me down a dark path. My mental, emotional and physical Health were in shambles.

Since coming to recovery I have learned a great deal about this skill, and my life has opened up greatly as a result. All areas of my being have been healed in ways I never thought possible.

I know how to find the healthy people and have developed a keen sense for when someone is selling me info that is garbage.

The suffering I experience today pales in comparison to what it once was. And you best believe the feelings of success and joy I experience today were something that couldn’t be fathomed 10 years ago.

teachable roads

Struggling with Being Teachable?

If you are struggling with being healthy teachable I am happy that you found this article.

My first tip would be to find some healthy people that you can trust. Whether that needs to be a Mental Health Professional, your grandmother, or just a trusted friend. Actually the ideal would be talking to several people you trust!

Get all of their information and what they would advise.Then do what they say as long as the advise given would not harm you or others.

It is quite painful to be living in a world that is shutdown from the helpful thoughts of other people. A world in which we think we know it all and therefore don’t need others is tremendously stressful.

So give yourself a break and allow someone to teach you something new today. It is most certainly for the better!

Thank you so much for stopping in to My Life Experiment today. If you enjoyed what you read then I would love for you to do a couple things for us!

  1. Please Like and leave a comment below.
  2. Share this article on your social media.
  3. Join our email list, which will get you a copy of our Therapeutic Writing Guide, and have our new articles sent directly to your email.
  4. Follow our Facebook Page!

Much Love, Travis Hagen

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