25 Sep The Abyss and How to Escape its Voracious Grasp
Moss Jackson, PhD
“You Deserve To Live An Exceptionally Long Life Of Success, Accomplishment and Satisfaction”
All of us, at times, run into setbacks and disappointments. Some of these might have to do with job dissatisfaction, a broken heart, financial woes, weight gain or physical problems. All of these are called “Situational Stresses”, they arise from a particular event or situation and once that situation has passed, we get back to living our lives. There is a curve to our emotions during these distressing states: first we experience an active and powerful descent into an abyss of worry, and then we accelerate to a state of anxiety and agitation. Fortunately, most of the time, once the stress is passed, so does our anxiety and worry. Both the peak of anxiety and the valley of despair are evened out and we land back on our feet.
Some of us, however, do not move through this cycle so easily or successfully. Instead we can get caught by an internal demon; once this demon has us in its grasp it proves to be a tenacious enemy to our sanity and well-being. It can even lead to emotional and physical breakdowns, loss of immunological resilience, and illness. This tragic phenomenon occurs when we confuse our feelings with anxious thoughts, and with reality.
In my new book “I Didn’t Come To Say Goodbye: Navigating The Psychology Of Immortality“, I explore how our thoughts can come to control our physical well-being and health. Our thoughts are actually photons of energy that activate our feelings. If you are preoccupied with worry, rumination about a bleak future or regrets of your past, your body will experience physical distress. Stress hormones are released into your bloodstream which, in return, rile your brain and internal thoughts into deepening spirals of distress, agitation and worry. Without much ado your emotional and survival brains come to interpret this wayward way of thinking/feeling as proof that you are in real trouble and then they push you into a panic mode of fight or flight.
In other words, you have fallen into a terrible fallacy, i.e., that your negative and anxious feelings mean that you are really in trouble. Of course, the truth is that your feelings are just emotions and sensations you are experiencing temporarily. It is only when your troublesome thinking takes over that you give up your power and well-being. Examples of troublesome thinking might be, “I’m a loser, nothing ever works for me,” or “why even try, I never catch a break,” and “I know I will never get better, I just don’t have the power to change anything!”
The key to escaping the terrifying abyss is to realize that your feelings are not the same thing as your thoughts. While you might feel pain through your emotions, the real suffering comes from catastrophic, black and white, absolutist thinking. Negative thinking is a bully in your brain that wants to suck the life out of you. It does not care about your joy or pleasure in life. It exists to dominate and enslave you into a chronic state of misery.
Is there any way out of this dilemma? Yes there is! But you will have to do some work to get strong enough to take control, and start navigating your life instead of being a victim to it. Here are some things you can do to retake some ground:
- Recognize you are hurting.
- Give your emotional pain a rating between 1 and 10.
- Locate where the pain has settled into your body, i.e. a rapid heartbeat in your chest, upset stomach, sore back, headache, etc..
- Take 10 really deep, slow breaths into your pain and experience your breathing rhythm.
- Shift your thinking to another time when you felt safe and connected to someone else.
- Linger and enjoy the memory and feel it in your body.
- Ask yourself “Is my thought real and true? Am I really a hopeless loser, with no future except despair?”
- Realize you are making up a second-rate desperation opera story that has no evidence to support its validity.
- Sing a silly song to yourself like “Happy Birthday,” “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” or “The Star Spangled Banner”!
- Recite 5 gratitudes or appreciations you feel about your life.
- Take a specific action to improve your situation.
Remember, all your brain wants is to know you are not in physical danger. It knows this when you take the above steps and take action. Once the brain knows you are doing anything, however small, to improve your situation, it will shift from worry and rumination mode to problem solving and optimistic mode. But you have to kick start it into a positive state by climbing out of the negative thinking trap.
This is how we are wired and, if you desire to live a life of Navigation, success and harmony, you will have to work for it. There is no one who can rescue you from your life and make your pain go away. But, if you take responsibility for your feelings and thoughts and take the above actions, you will literally rewire your brain and create a brain that will guide you away from abysmal thinking into getting on with the exceptional life you deserve to be living.
“Navigate for Success, Accomplishment and Satisfaction”