Yesterday was a day much like any other.
I got up at dawn and devoted a few hours to creativity before heading off to face the more physical part of my day.
I don’t mind so much that I have to work a blue-collar job. It keeps me grounded—and right now, with the things that are going on in my life, that grounding is most necessary. It’d be too easy for me to just float away on a cloud of self-importance and get my hopes up too high as I communicate with literary agents in New York about my book proposal.
One of the most annoying things about being a creative, however, is that my level of sensitivity is outrageous.
Even as a child, perceived slights—real or imagined—would send me floating untethered into a black orbit of emotional pain. It was difficult not to feel ambivalent about it. In one respect, it was a fortuitous place to gain inspiration, but it was also quite unhelpful to find myself drowning in a pool of dark feelings whenever it happened.
When I turned to the inspirational and motivational side of things a few years ago, my idea was simply to take drastic measures to improve my life. I literally saturated my brain with every bit of Tony Robbins that was available to me.
As many who have followed this path know, once you get hooked on one of these guys, you just go deeper and deeper into that vortex and pick up anything and everything in the genre—especially, if you begin to get favorable results. And I did. I became addicted to self-improvement and accomplishment.
One aspect of Robbins’ work, that I gained—almost as a side effect of my immersion in it—was better control over my emotions.
I really did not have a clue initially how this would help me to reach my goals quicker, but that’s why he would be considered the teacher and I would be the student. Without being versed in the understanding of one’s own psychology, I noticed, you were going to be stuck on first base.
Which brings me back to yesterday.
I received an email about my creative efforts earlier in the day that sent me spiraling into the familiar realm of unproductive emotions—oscillating between anger and sadness.
It was really no time at all before my confidence waned into a feeling of uncertainty about my worth as a writer. I allowed this to continue unchecked for about a half an hour, before I began to take the controls back and change my flight path. I had the knowledge to change my emotional state and it was time to start using it.
Here are three things I remembered when it happened:
Appreciate your emotions.
Many times we are told by well-meaning folks that certain emotions are useless, but I believe that is too facile and two-dimensional. There are definite reasons why we get into the states we get into. Something inside of us is trying to communicate something important. Take guilt for instance; you can try to push it down and deny it because it almost appears completely unproductive, but what it is trying to tell you is that somehow you’ve ignored your own standards or you haven’t lived up to your own expectations.
So, honor those feelings and act accordingly. Even if, under more careful scrutiny, you realize you are exaggerating the situation, address it. It’ll then be easier to work on the next step.
Change your perception or change your procedure.
If you go to give your partner a kiss and they brush you off in a way that makes you feel rejected or just plain awful, check to see if perhaps your procedure for communicating your needs can be changed a little. If not, check to see if your perception isn’t really on target. Sure, things change. It’s easy to get trapped into remembering how responsive our lovers were in the beginning, and then letting that make us feel like we have lost something over time.
This can simply be our perception, so we need to be cautious about how we proceed with those thoughts. Sometimes it’s okay to give our loved ones a break and try to understand that relationships have a natural progression, and then address the issue at a more opportune time.
Diminish the intensity.
As I noted in the first two steps, emotions—even the whirlwind ones—have their use. Now, once we are able to glean the information from them that we need, we have to be able to move on and not ruminate. Sometimes this is easier said than done. There is a technique, however, that does work:
Take the event that brought you into your dark mood and turn it into a 30-second movie. Say, for instance, it was a Facebook message someone sent you that just turned your stomach. The movie would be you picking up your phone and reading it. Now move that frame of the movie to the left corner of your mind. Turn it from color to black and white. Then, slowly fade it to almost no discernible lines at all until it almost looks like a time weathered postcard. Finally, shrink that faded postcard to the size of a withered postage stamp.
You will find that, while this is not a magic cure-all, it will begin to diminish the intensity of the emotions and you will slowly retain control of your day.
Whether all these steps resonate with you or not, there is bound to be at least one of them that will come to your aid when you are in that world of emotional paralysis that we can easily be thrust into when our feelings are hurt.
So, give it a shot. The only thing you really have to lose is a bad day.
Author: Billy Manas
Image: Kathrin Honesta/Instagram
Editor: Lieselle Davidson
Copy Editor: Yoli Ramazzina