Sometimes it’s easy to tell when we’re in the midst of an emotional meltdown. Luckily such episodes are few and far between! What’s more common is the feelings of unease, of restlessness, perhaps frustration that can be a part of everyday life – yet not forceful enough for us to attend to them. And so we don’t – instead snapping at the children, or viewing life negatively when we could actually be living with far more ease and joy.
It appears that in our day and age, in the current political environment, in the social norms of society, or amidst the general pace of life, we feel somewhat thrown off – a sense of ‘ungroundedness’ as a common underlying theme. Which is why many of our reactions can be fear based, and unhelpful at best, given that fear closes us in and blinds us to what is possible.
It appears that as humans, we have a refurbished brain that still operates on old systems when we’re not paying attention. These systems function at a subconscious level with the sole purpose of keeping us alive. But if you want to thrive – as we all do – its important to recognize the neural circuitry at play so that we can step back from its habitual response.
This can show up as anxiety, as worry or a sense of unease. We can feel thrown off, as though we’re facing impending doom, and unable to do anything about it. What helps is to step back and ground yourself in your breath. Focus on the in breath and the out breath – and slow it down to a comfortable level. As you do so, recognize that in this moment, despite everything you feel and fear, life is good – and life is safe.
This can show up as restlessness, a quickened breath, frustration, or outright anger. There is way too much coming in, and there just doesn’t seem enough time in the day to manage it all. And yes, it’s way too common in our lives, given the information overload, the speed of life, and the lack of adequate support systems. What helps is gratitude, believe it or not. Because it helps you disconnect from the roller coaster of ‘more and more’ and find peace in the simplicity of having less, knowing less, and doing less.
This can show up as sadness, as loneliness or as wanting to simply stay under the covers until its night again. Again, it can be because a lot of social interaction has shifted to the online world that does nothing to nurture the happiness of a smile and the warmth of a hug. The vagal nerve (that flows through the heart) is connected to the muscles of the face – and it may be thousands of years before it can learn to respond to the emojis on social media. So reach out to real friends – in fact do it on a regular basis, because it also helps with feelings of anxiety and overwhelm.
Life is not always under our locus of control – in fact it rarely is! What we can control is our reactions to it – and it all begins with recognizing our neural reaction so we can initiate a more positive behavioral one.
If you have any ways of dealing with your own low key emotional reactions, please write back in the comments below.