The other day, I woke up overcome with emotion.
I was immediately frustrated by the cat, immediately seeking validation from my partner, and immediately sad and angry and overwhelmed by literally everything.
Every once in a while, this happens to me. I get in these foul moods and fall into a vicious thinking pattern where everything is just wrong.
It’s hard to get out of a negative thinking pattern. I try not to shame myself for feeling, and I allow myself to feel, but there comes a point when our negative thinking is just self-sabotage.
The hardest part about it, though, is that I can often observe myself from the outside and I can see when I’m sabotaging myself by feeding off the negativity—and then, I don’t do anything about it.
It’s the doing that’s hard. I’ve always been that way. It’s the same when I decide to binge eat. I know it’s only hurting me, yet I decide not to stop. It’s just like any other addiction—we often know we have a problem, and yet, we do not stop. It’s not that we don’t want to stop; of course, most of the time, we do want to stop what we know is actively hurting us.
But, an addiction is an addiction and we can’t just wake up one day and decide we’re going to stop. (Although, if you can do that, more power to you!)
After pouting in the corner and finally overcoming our brutal (anxiety-inducing) indecision, my partner and I decided to go to the park to play. Getting out in nature and playing would surely help my wicked mood, right? Eh, not really.
I laid on the grass that pressed against my bare belly and I let the numbness take over me.
“Let’s meditate,” he said.
Silently, I sat up and faced the sun, I threw my T-shirt over my face, and I didn’t even bother to scratch the itchiness from the grass on my belly. Tears streamed down my face the entire 12 minutes we meditated, only making the itchiness worse.
The meditation and the tears briefly helped, but I was still stuck.
I was attached to the mindset that I was in a bad mood.
When I become attached to these moods, I go silent. The last thing I want to do is admit when I already know: I’m creating this reality and it’s not serving me. Anyone else as stubborn as I am?
My partner looked at me and he (no joke) said, “Your silence is deafening.”
He proceeded to (politely) demand I tell him exactly what I think could be making me feel the way I was feeling. I needed the prodding. The truth is, I didn’t know exactly why I was feeling the way I was, and oftentimes, that’s the case. But still, I tried.
I told him everything that felt “wrong” in my life, as more tears fell from my eyes. All he did was listen, and I began to feel slightly better. Classic. Of course, talking about it was the answer.
But it wasn’t just the “talking about it” that made me feel better, it was the fact that I felt seen (without judgment or unsolicited advice). What I needed was that connection, but I was sabotaging myself out of it by being avoidant and stubborn.
I didn’t want to admit that I was feeling sh*tty for no “real” reason and I definitely didn’t want to admit that I knew I was feeding off my own negativity, digging myself a deeper hole.
But, the fact of the matter is that he already knew that. He saw me—and he pulled me out.
“Tell me what you’re grateful for,” he responded after I spewed out what I wasn’t grateful for.
And we returned to gratitude.
Slowly, my mood began to shift, and I finally felt brought back to the present moment.
It’s amazing what others can do for us.
Some days, I can pull myself out of my negative thinking patterns, but sometimes, I need help. We all need help sometimes.
And so, I’m sharing this as a reminder (not only to you but to myself) that the most important thing we can do for ourselves (and others) is to speak up—about the way we feel, about why we’re having a hard time, about what we need, about anything. Just speak up.
If we want to overcome an addiction, the first thing we need to do is talk about it. Being sad or depressed or always anxious can become an addiction just like any other—and it’s f*cking hard to let go of. But you’re not alone.
I’m grateful I have a partner who was able to see me and force the words out of me, but I understand that won’t always be the case. And so, I’m working on speaking up, too. I’m working on opening up, asking for help, and admitting when I’m struggling or when I’m behaving irrationally.
But also, I want to work on reaching out more and checking in with others—because that’s what I needed.
So, here’s your reminder:
Check in with yourself. Check in with others. Tell people why you feel the way you do. And listen to others when they tell you why they feel the way they do (and forget the advice—just hold space for them).
And always, always return to gratitude.