These are 3 reasons you are emotionally overwhelmed. You have the power to change it!
“It rained yesterday! Why does this ALWAYS happen to me.” I wanted to reply with, “Uhhhh, it happened to all of us.” But, I refrained.
There is a pretty good argument that suggests sweating the small stuff appropriately can make big stuff less likely to occur. However, in many cases, I am struck how small everyday problems can completely ruin a day.
One method that I have been trying to use with my clients, as well as myself, is to implement the “Power of One”. This method is used to categorize problems and hopefully find some perspective on how much emotional energy should be spent.
With the Power of One method, time is used to categorize any problem. Is this a problem that is worth one minute, one hour, one week, one month, one year, or one lifetime of emotional energy (hint – nothing deserves a lifetime of emotional energy).
I know there are problems that may be more like 42 minute problems, but do your best. The point of the exercise is to help recognize if the emotional energy spent on any given difficulty is proportionate.
I went to the grocery recently and the deli was fresh out of the ready-to-serve chicken I was planning on getting for dinner. Out of the corner of my eye I caught a glimpse of a guy walking away with two full boxes of my chicken. My first thought (accompanied by a small tear– on the inside), “Why does this ALWAYS happen to me?”
Which category should my chicken travesty belong? Let’s see, a one minute problem (get something else for dinner – KFC is literally walking distance from the store), a one hour problem (wander aimlessly around the store annoyed until the next batch is done), or a one week problem (It’s amazing how easy it is to stew for a week.).
Only I had the power to choose the category. The real question was: How much emotional energy was I willing to expend on fried chicken?
If we all take a deep breath and think rationally, there is no reason to expend emotional energy for a week over a one minute problem.
The following will discuss three reasons to set a time limit for stewing on any of your daily difficulties.
Reason 1: Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That.
When you have no control over an occurrence, all the time you spend complaining and worrying is getting you no where. Think of all the things you could be doing during that time. I’m pretty sure there are many of us who could have read the entire Library of Congress if instead of worrying and complaining we sat down and enjoyed getting lost in a book.
Right now, you may be wasting emotional time and energy that could be spent with your children, building relationships, learning to juggle, cleaning that window that hasn’t been cleaned in 5 years, or just enjoying the present moment of silence.
Reason 2: Stop the Chaos in Your Head.
“There’s Susie. Oh, I guess she didn’t see me. I think she saw me, but acted like she didn’t. I wonder why she hates me? Haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate. I love that song. Taylor Swift is awesome. I bet she hates Taylor Swift too. No wonder I never liked her.”
The interesting thing about humans, all of those thoughts happened in less than 10 seconds. When you dwell on a one minute problem for a week or more, you just get a series of semi-connected thoughts that can get out of control.
When that one minute of annoyance becomes a one week occupation of your thoughts, I don’t care what the original problem was – you lose.
Mindfulness is the practice of letting go of the thought obsessions and simply accepting the present. The thoughts in your head are not stopped; they are noticed, acknowledged, and set free.
When practicing mindfulness the goal is to notice not only your thoughts, but to open up your world and notice the nuances in your environment – the wind on your face, the sound of the birds, and even the behaviors and emotions of others. There is no greater peace than when you can truly be in the present moment.
Reason 3: Emotions are Contagious.
In the book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, the authors talk about the Ripple Effect from your emotions. They suggest that your emotions – both good and bad – send ripples that touch all the people in your life. Emotional ripples effect not only the friends who you may be venting to or may hear you vent, but also everyone they subsequently encounter.
Have you ever noticed the effect when someone comes into his or her home in a bad mood? It can change the whole atmosphere of the house. Now everyone in the family is in a bad mood. Don’t let your one minute problems ripple through your home, work, or the line at Walmart.
Instead, work to be the positive influence of emotion. It will make your whole world a lot happier.
For just this week, try categorizing your concerns using the Power of One. It will be interesting to note how much time you can regain, how clear your thoughts will become, and the power of your emotions on others.