7 Methods for Managing Disappointment from Taking Healthy Risks.

Hey everybody, this is Travis from My Life Experiment. Thank you for stopping by once again or for the first time!

In this article we are going to discuss DISAPPOINTMENT. This of course is a subject that all of us should be able to relate to, in some way or another.

Oxford dictionary has disappointment defined as, “sadness or displeasure caused by the non-fulfilment of one’s hopes or expectations.”

Let’s face it, for all but probably a small percentage of the human population, the feeling of disappointment sucks. I think it would be difficult to learn to enjoy the feeling of the definition above.

The thing is, that the only way for me to experience success with My Life Experiment is to take healthy risks! Taking risks always means the possibility of the risk not working out, and so possible disappointment.

When I think about the amount of disappointment I feel after a risk not working out, it is easy to see the relationship between disappointment and expectation.

The relationship between the two is like an equation to me, the amount of disappointment felt depends on the amount of expectation placed on a certain outcome. So, if I am really excited for a certain outcome, you better believe there will be a decent amount of disappointment, if it doesn’t work out.

Of course, the inverse of this equation is also true, if I am not placing a lot of expectation on an outcome, I am likely to not be all that disappointed by it not coming together.

So here we have the solution to disappointment! All we have to do is not get too excited for having things go our way and we will never be too disappointed. Wait…. That sounds like a horrible way to go through life!

I mean I am not all that outwardly excitable of a guy. But I do have my own way of showing excitement for my life. I am excited to be living in my families first house. I am very excited to meet my baby girl when she finally enters the world probably within the next month. I am also excited about watching the progress come together on My Life Experiment blog!

I remember when I first entered recovery. I was certainly not an excited guy, I was broken. What I was, was a nervous wreck! Many years of bottling up my potential had me needing to be on Depression and Anxiety Medications, and still having a difficult time with my nerves.

I mention that part of my life because it shows me that not taking healthy risks had a horrendous impact on my mental, physical and emotional health.

The fact of the matter is that for me, if I am taking healthy risks I am going to feel stress. Also, if I am not taking sufficient healthy risks, I am going to build up stress anyway. As the stress builds in the background of my awareness, consequences may come later as my brain seeks quick fixes for stress relief that I probably won’t like.

So not taking risks as a way to avoid stress, ultimately ends up biting me in the butt! See?? I am damned if I do and damned if i don’t. Doing sounds like the best way to go. At least that way I find myself in new exciting situations.

Life is much better when I am seeking new ways of growing, taking risks, and putting myself out there to be disappointed from time to time. Since disappointment is unavoidable for the kind of life I desire. I need ways to help navigate disappointment to make sure it does not eat me alive or deter me from taking sufficient healthy risks!

Methods for Successfully Managing Disappointment:

1. Feel the Pain- Where there is disappointment, there is pain. The pain might tell me I am a failure, stupid for taking the risk, or that someone else had it out for me. It is immensely important to get in touch with these painful emotions so they don’t keep me from taking risks in the future.

2. Social Support- Having people I trust is very important for dealing with disappointment. They can help me see any kind of silver linings that I may not be able to see. These trusted people may also be able to affirm any positive traits in myself that I may be overlooking.

3. Gratitude- I work on focusing on what I have to be grateful for. This could be done by either writing a gratitude list. Or just taking some time out to run through a list in my head. If the disappoint stings really bad, I don’t count on one gratitude session doing the trick. By taking a risk, I obviously wanted something more in my life. So, taking some time to remind myself that there are plenty of things to appreciate about my current life, can be highly therapeutic.

4. Having Patience- I need to remind myself that heavy disappointment will not be worked through overnight. If I really had my heart set on an outcome and I didn’t get it, it is going to hurt. But keeping myself informed that I will feel better about it over time, helps a lot.

5. Giving credit for taking a risk- It can be easy to become disheartened by a “failed risk,” maybe thinking it was stupid to waste time and resources. Reminding myself that putting myself out there to take a healthy risk is a commendable thing, is very important!

6. Focus on what was learned- Having taken the risk (even if it didn’t work out) I still gained some extra skills from the experience. The experience can also show me what didn’t work with the risk I took. If I examine what went wrong, I can possibly formulate another plan of action for the next risky attempt!

7. Get back to the basics- While I am dealing with disappointment, the emotions can get in the way of being present in the relationships I currently am a part of. I find that when I make the effort to pump some of that energy that had me taking the risk into giving more to my marriage, my work, my family, that the disappointment doesn’t do as much damage to my mind.

Taking healthy risks is an important part of my life. I do not see anything wrong with the strong desire to expand life and learn new things. I find that if I neglect to allow my energy to create in the world by taking healthy risks, this energy IS going to come out sideways in negative ways. This will make life much more difficult for myself and those around me!

As for all of you, I cannot say what risks you should be taking. Though I can say that if you are anything like me, you better be taking some. Life can be a beautiful thing, full of opportunity to expand, love, and learn. So, on that note, GO GET SOME!

Thank you all once again for stopping by My Life Experiment! I always have fun taking the risk of putting my ideas out to you, for your consumption. If you have found worthwhile information in this article, please share it to your social media to help the healthy risk of My Life Experiment to grow. And if you have any questions or insights on the article please leave them in the comment section below!

Much love to you all,

Travis Hagen

 

*Note that the advice given in this article is not meant to replace the role of Mental Health Professionals.

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Confused? 5 Methods for Easing Through Painful Learning.

Hey everybody, Travis from My Life Experiment here! Thank you for stopping in to see what I have to say today.

Today I’m going to touch on the topic of Confusion. I am seeking to answer a couple of questions here from my own perspective.

1. What is confusion?
2. Why can confusion be so painful?
3. How Can I release the confusion?
4. What are the good aspects of confusion

My Life Experiment is All about gathering information to learn new concepts and new tasks. This means a lot of confusion to deal with. So, what is confusion for me?

What is Confusion for me?

Let me work this out with an example from when I was attending College. I had to take an Intermediate Algebra class. Now with the life I lived experimenting in very unhealthy ways, I bypassed basically all forms of Algebra. This made my learning very difficult once I couldn’t avoid it anymore.

Sometimes I would sit and rack my damn brain trying to figure out the way to solve the equations. There were times when I was ready to throw my computer out the window and literally beat my head against a wall! But thankfully I never did either of those!

 

After a 45-minute session, sometimes I would have my brain thoroughly twisted into a knot (so it felt). Sometimes I would be questioning just about every life decision that brought me up the spot in my life, and all others that might follow.

To me the confusion here is in the “brain twisted in a knot” feeling. Which of course brains do not twist in knots. Though there are a ton of times where the gaps between what I know and what needs to be known, have seem painfully very far apart. Like to an irreconcilable degree!

I don’t know the exact science of what is going on inside my brain when I am confused. Though I do imagine a whole bunch of neurons working hard to connect with one another. And the faster I “need” them to connect, the harder it can be on my mental health.

Why the Pain of Confusion?

Just being confused alone doesn’t seem to be enough to cause me pain though. The pain of confusion really comes when pressure is applied.

The kind of pressure I am talking about is like when a purpose is at play, and something to be accomplished. What really amps up pressure to learn is when a deadline is applied! When the learning process is pushed to speed up, that is when confusion seems to become painful.

My Algebra class had deadlines that I needed to meet. In my mind I had expectations that I needed to meet. I wanted the best grades and I wanted them bad. In order to meet these expectations of mine and the teacher’s, the information had to be learned and learned well. Well enough that I could show that I learned it! This created ample pressure!

When I am in the pain part of confusion I can become ultra-sensitive, someone that even talks around me may get a dirty look! I may even be on the verge of telling these unsuspecting offenders some unnecessary pieces of my mind!

I take it that I have a massive amount of electrical activity going on in my brain, and it hurts. The pain also starts talking, and it will likely not be very nice to myself or to others!

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Now this depth of confusion is thankfully not that often of an occurrence for me. But when there is pressure to meet a deadline that I don’t exactly know how to meet, it is likely that I will not be able to avoid getting painfully confused.

My Life Experiment is all about finding new avenues to take for finding personal growth. To live the kind of life I want to live, I will not be able to avoid these feelings. So the best I can do is find some ways to help out the process so the confusion doesn’t need to get to such a drastic stage. Here are a couple of ways that I keep myself from having to experience painful confusion, while still challenging myself to grow!

5 Methods for Easing Through Painful Learning.

1. Begin Projects early– Going to College taught me that if I leave things to the last minute, I am setting myself up for a great deal of stress. Spacing out my learning over a longer period of time, makes it more likely that I will not be as homicidally confused the night before something is due.

2. Breathe– When I am getting sensitive and angry while confused, concentrating on my breathing is imperative. The breathes I take helps create a space where I can settle down and relax my brain so that it isn’t so tense anymore.

3. Take breaks– I’ve found that if I work on a challenging problem for too long, I am bound to become pissed. When I start realizing that the stress is building to an uncomfortable level, I let myself know it is time to put the work away for a little bit.

4. Stretch– Even taking a couple of minutes to do a little stretching can relieve a lot of that stress that is building in my extremities. This can help my brain relax since it ends up getting fewer messages of tenseness from my body. This gives my brain more freedom to be creative on my project.

5. Sleep on it– Sleep can be kind of like a long break. It has a way of untangling the mess that is in my brain. I can go to sleep completely confused then wake up and work on the project in the morning, in a sense, recharged. That sleep recharge has helped me bring important new ideas to the project many times. If I would have just kept working on it through the night, I can only imagine I would turn the project into a jumbled mess.

It is clear to me that being in a state of confusion is an unavoidable part of my brains problem solving repertoire. My brain is constantly trying to figure out new ways of doing things and I simply cannot skip past the confusion stage of learning. No matter how nice skipping that part of the process would be!

The Good aspects of Confusion.

Where there is confusion, there is learning. To me, that is the good news! I, would even venture an assumption that the stronger the confusion, the more I am learning.

That I am confused, lets me know that I am giving myself sufficient challenges to learn. If I don’t give My Life Experiment enough challenges, I am bound to get bored.

Learning new things and risking confusion may be uncomfortable at times, but I would rather be learning than bored out of my mind. Because I know all too well that boredom brings it’s own stress, but stress that is much less productive!

For me, I will even say the greater the confusion equals the greater sense of satisfaction once the thing is learned and the project is complete. I love figuring out something that has been giving me a good challenge. Knowing that many of my neurons got educated well and got to make new connections actually gives me hope for more having more success in the future. Being able to surprise myself with successful results feels amazing!

A few last words.

The last couple things I have to say to you all about confusion is, welcome it. Challenge yourself, make yourself think! Learning more and challenging our abilities, actually can help ward off Alzheimer’s Disease!

Now I cannot say what is a healthy amount of challenge for everybody. I can only figure that out for myself. Everybody will have a different level of confusion that they can handle. But I do believe that if I listen to my instincts close enough, they will let me know what is a challenge I should take and one that is better left for later.

That’s all I have for today on My Life Experiment. I went through a good deal of confusion in writing this article, that tells me that I learned a lot! In fact taking care of this website has given my life an ample amount of healthy confusion. So, thank you for showing up and giving me someone to share the work with!

If you enjoyed what you read today, please share this article on your social media. Also if you have any questions or insights please leave them in the comments section below. Thank you so much for stopping by, and I hope you all have a great time experimenting with your own life today!

Six Steps to Healing With Therapeutic Writing.

Welcome to My Life Experiment once again or for the first time. In either case thank you for stopping in to check the site out. In the last article on My Life Experiment, I talked about getting emotional healing through communicating with my own troublesome thoughts!

I let you know about how I talk to the pain, but more specifically that I tell the thoughts that I love them. I also mentioned very briefly that I get healing from writing to the pain. This is my form of Therapeutic Writing. In this article we will be diving deeper into this topic!

For my form of Therapeutic Writing, I have important guidelines that I follow. These guidelines have been developed out of necessity to help this recovering addict stay in the know with his rather intense emotional nature.

Not staying in touch with my emotions has unpleasant consequences. I become more stressed, my thoughts get more resentful, and I find myself getting snippier with people around me. I even become more attached to unnecessary junk on my phone, as well as other things that are a waste of my time!

Those are some of the warning signs, telling me that I am having emotions that need to be brought out of the dark. It is critical that I use these signs as a prompt to get back in touch with these emotions. Not getting in touch with them at this time, will make healthy life experimentation much more difficult!

I trust that when I am willing to stop and ask myself what I am feeling, my body will let me know if I listen close enough. It will inform me of what is going on with it and these guidelines that I follow, effectively get to where I am at emotionally on a highly consistent basis.

My Life Experiment’s Guidelines for Therapeutic Writing:

  1. When I feel the need to get in touch with an emotion, it may not always be the right time to invoke this pain. So instead of tapping the emotion at work, or another inappropriate time, I will commit to sitting down and writing later when I get home.
  2. Sometimes I will write in a notebook and sometimes I will write on my laptop. I don’t think one has been any better than the other for me.
  3. I do like to put some chill music on. The music makes it more likely that I will get in a relaxed enough space to allow myself to feel vulnerable enough to soften up my current perspective. Though it is not always necessary.pexels-photo-583843.jpeg
  4. A lot of times when I need to do some Therapeutic Writing, I am feeling anger that is directed at someone else. Other times it may be angry at myself. Either way, when I am writing I need to make sure that I am good to myself and good to others. This Therapeutic Writing is meant for healing resentments, not perpetuating them. Forgiveness is of the utmost importance, and I offer to both myself or the others I may be punishing inside of my own skull.
  5. I steer myself away from getting wrapped up in self-pity. I need to stay in the reality that I am not a victim to what caused the feeling. Where ever the emotion stems from, it is not that important here. To me it is only as important in so far as it helps me get in touch with the emotion. Rumination on the circumstance that may have caused the emotion will likely keep me stuck in anger or self-pity. (*Note I am not saying there are no victims of circumstance, only that I can’t afford to allow the past keep me from feeling my emotion.)
  6. Most of the time it will not take much time to get some emotion to the surface. Once it shows up I find that it isn’t all that important for me to keep writing, since this is all I wanted out of the exercise.

The Therapeutic Writing I do has gotten me unstuck from many painful emotions. That means that it has helped me from acting out in all sorts of ways that would have caused me excess guilt and a lot more problems. Not to mention has relieved a great deal of pent up stress!

I don’t know about you, but I would rather not be dragged around by emotions, acting out in damaging ways. I want to be in control of my life as much as possible. Thanks to this writing process I have a practical way to bring myself back into the moment!

Although this process has led to feeling many painful emotions, the pain of feeling the emotions is far more desirable then the painful consequences of not feeling them! I do realize that traumatic emotions from the past can be tremendously difficult to process. This process has been so helpful to me in a large part because I am closely connected to a recovery community that has helped me develop a great deal of stability. So if you are in too rough of a spot, please get yourself some professional help!

If you end up deciding to make this process a part of your life, I hope you find them as helpful as I have found them in mine! If you have any questions or concerns about My Life Experiment’s Therapeutic Writing process, please leave them in the comments section below and I will promptly respond to them!

See you next time!

 

My Art of Loving Painful Thoughts.

Whether you have Mental Health issues or not, none of us are entirely loving of all the thoughts that roll through our heads.

In an earlier article on finding a way from Fear to Self-Love, a tip I gave was to simply tell the thoughts that I love them. Since then I have gotten positive reactions about the suggestion and find it important to delve into the concept a little further!

Well wait, lets back track a bit! First of all, what in the world is a thought? Just Kidding! I’m not digging into that topic! there are plenty of different theories about what our thoughts are. I like theories plenty, but in this article, I am concerned only with the relationship I have with these thoughts.

Okay okay.. of course I am theorizing here when I say that I have a relationship with my thoughts. But it is an assumption that I feel safe with laying down here for you.

To say that I have a relationship with my thoughts lets you know that I don’t believe that I am my thoughts. I guess I also say that I have a relationship with myself as well. Does that mean that I am not myself? Whatever the case may be, I can love my thoughts, and I can love myself.  

My thoughts feel like the closest thing to me. Sometimes when I really get into them, I have a hard time differentiating myself from them. These thoughts of mine come in a wide array of loudness, stickiness, lightness and all sorts of other qualities.

Thoughts can be peaceful, they can be violent, they can be a reflection of whatever emotion I currently may be feeling. Sometimes these thoughts are loving, and sometimes they are ready to cause pain in myself and others.

It is these painful thoughts that I want to put the attention on here. The happy go lucky, grateful, or content thoughts are a treat to for me to have. The painful thoughts are what give the trouble.

The painful thoughts are the ones that have me in self-protection mode, looking for the ways that my surroundings might bring me harm (even in trustworthy and safe situations). These are the thoughts that have me building resentments against myself and others, as a way to justify isolating myself.

These painful thoughts might say something like this:

  1. You aren’t capable of doing that.
  2. Who do you think you are?
  3. Who do they think they are?
  4. Why is everybody else so screwed in the head?
  5. They are out to get me.
  6. I am such an idiot.
  7. That person isn’t good enough to hang with me.
  8. That dude needs a punch in the face.
  9. Who does he think he is looking at?
  10. I think the world would be better off without me.

All of the thoughts in this list have at least one thing in common to me, they are all coming from a body that is hurting and seeking to protect itself. As I see it, the thoughts that are coming from pain, are coming from emotional wounds. Wounds that are going to wreak havoc in subtle or even blatantly obvious ways.

It is easy to love my thoughts that feel good. Often times the painful thoughts are the ones I BELIEVE I shouldn’t be loving. Over my years in recovery though, I have found those are the flavor of thoughts that need love the most!

TALKING TO THE PAIN

When I am stuck in this type of thinking, I know that I am feeling hurt for some reason though I may not immediately notice this. I also likely won’t know where it is stemming from. I could already be isolating some or being snippier to those around me before this comes to my attention.

But once I see that I am not feeling too hot, I can’t afford to turn away from the thinking. The spotlight needs to shine on that pain. I need to let it see that I am paying attention to it, and that I am not here to condemn it.

Then I can ask it some questions like:

  1. Are you okay buddy?
  2. What’s wrong?
  3. You know that everything is okay right?
  4. How can I help you?
  5. Is there a reason that you are hurting?

Showing loving respect to my thinking like this, creates the space for healing. By communicating with my thoughts, the emotion that is fueling the thought gets a chance to tell me about itself. It can tell me why it is hurting, and what I can do to help it out.

Sometimes I will communicate with my thoughts on paper, by writing in a therapeutic way. Other times I take care of it entirely inside of my own skull. And yes, I will even do it out loud when driving in the car from time to time! There is no shame in having a conversation with these thoughts that need attention.

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SAYING I LOVE YOU TO THE THOUGHTS

When I am having painful thoughts like the ones I wrote above, I don’t always need to do an in-depth inventory with them, to have healing. I have come to the realization, that simply telling these thoughts I love them has a positive impact!

I’m not saying that it will immediately make me feel better. What it will do is keep the pain from talking too loudly and getting out of control. It puts my body more at ease, reminding it that we are safe. Saying I love you to my thoughts often enough has helped me stay more closely in touch with the feeling of safety. And a safe body doesn’t feel the need to be on edge, ready to fight or flee! A safe body can relax.

These emotions also don’t go to my head when I let them know I love them, and that is fantastic! I spent a lot of my life totally lost in my pain filled thoughts without a good way to snap out of them. These days I get to have a positive relationship with my thinking a majority of the time. Letting my thoughts know that I love them where they are at, seems to help keep them from guiding my behavior into directions that cause me excess guilt. It lets them know that I am aware of their presence and that they are welcome here.

As the Psychologist Carl Jung once wrote “What we resist, persists;” I understand that saying I will welcome and love thoughts that can be disturbing might seem dangerous. But ignoring these thoughts or acting out on them brings the real danger! Loving them and giving them safe housing settles them down and lets the hurt that is packed inside of them to be felt. This leaves me to state the flip-side of what Carl Jung said, that “What we don’t resist, ceases to persist!”

I have deep gratitude for having come to this point in my life, where my mental health issues seem to be in a balanced state. My history with mental illness and the strides I have been able to make leads me to believe that anyone that is willing and ABLE to do the hard work can find their way to more mental and emotional stability. Though I also believe these methods of loving our thoughts and emotions would be beneficial to much of the human race! Whether dealing with mental health issues, or just average human being hurt (which actually is still quite a bit).

So that is all I have for today! If you enjoyed what you have read I would deeply appreciate if you could share this to your social media to help spread this message of healing. If you have any insights or questions on what you have read in this article, then please leave a comment below!

Thank you for stopping in today to My Life Experiment! In the next article I am going to dive in a little deeper into the detailed steps I use in my Therapeutic Writing Routine. I will let you know the guidelines I have for the process and the benefits I receive from using it!

*Now if you are having difficulty condemning thoughts you are having, you are certainly not alone. If the thoughts are guiding you into acting out in problematic ways (excess chemical usage, bouts of anger or rage, self-harm, etc…), then PLEASE talk to a mental health professional. This guidance I give here is not meant to replace support from a mental health professional or replace taking the proper medications.