If you grew up in a home shaped by substance abuse, neglect and negative feelings, your emotional response system is probably automatic and unconscious. Once you start being conscious about the roots of unpleasant feelings, you can begin to think and react differently. Part two of this blog shows you what tools are available to you.
Unpleasant Feelings Are a Mirror
When you experience unpleasant feelings try to explore their reasons with an open mind. Unpleasant feelings are rooted in your childhood and in an upbringing shaped by insecure attachments. You grew up in a family that did not react in an appropriate way to pain. Your father or mother suppressed their own pain by drinking or abusing drugs. Every day, more and more alcohol or more and more drugs were needed to subdue the pain. You witnessed how your parents behaving unkindly towards themselves and towards you. You were taught to react to unpleasant feelings without love and compassion. As a result, you often unconsciously think or react without kindness or love towards yourself.
Unpleasant feelings are a mirror. They tell you that you lose yourself over and over when you unconsciously continue to repeat your patterns of behavior, thoughts and interpretations.
I want to tell you that you are able to change directions. Your life can be much better. You are able to let go of these obsessive thoughts and reactions. You are able to limit the periods of time in which you feel miserable.
Try This When You Are Sad or Depressed
The very first kind and loving act you have to do is to decide that you want to make a change. Love yourself and give yourself permission to break free of the limiting and negative illusion you have created about who you are and about your life. Mental discomfort is a sign. It tells you that certain thoughts about yourself result in negative reactions inside you.
Once you start exploring what feeds these states of mind, you will be able to take a step back.
- Explore these thoughts. Think about when your mood changed and when you started experiencing the unpleasant feelings.
- What happened immediately before?
- Did something in particular trigger them?
- Which feelings are feelings that are rooted in your childhood?
- Do you recognize any of them?
- How many of your reactions are automatic?
- Is it possible for you to make space for the unpleasant feelings, yet at the same time be caring and loving towards yourself?
When you feel sad and depressed, try to look for themes. You will likely notice a pattern. Perhaps, you find that you feel rejected or neglected. Perhaps you feel that no matter how hard you try or how hard you work, nothing is ever good enough.
The latter may be rooted in the neglect and the rejections you experienced as a child. The former may be rooted in the fact that no matter how hard you tried, you were never able to save your parents. It was an impossible task, and it wasn’t your responsibility. It was their responsibility.
Strengthen Your Mental Capabilities
To stay fit and physically healthy, we go to the gym to work out – or do some kind of physical exercise or sport. It strengthens our muscles and keeps us physically in shape. The same is necessary for our mental well-being. We have to build and maintain our mental capacity. You did not get that kind of mental exercise when you were a child. However, as an adult, it is now possible for you to practice and work out mentally.
To be most effective, make space and time to take care of your mind and strengthen your mental health every day. Being disciplined about it will be helpful. It will help you avoid a relapse into old patterns of behavior and old emotional reactions.
One way to add mental strength and space in your life is to meditate daily. For instance, the heart meditation (in Danish) is a very effective way to show yourself love and kindness.
You can also work consciously with daily affirmations (in Danish).
Or you can find inspiration to methods that work for you by for instance exploring the work of Louise Hay (affirmations) or of Dr. Joe Dispenza (meditations and videos on YouTube).
You need to destroy the illusion that life is hard. There is no need to accept feeling sad and miserable most of the time.
You are an adult now. You have the possibility of creating the kind of life you want.
When you are ready, read more about working specifically with your thoughts and notions in the third and last part of this blog.