I was browsing some social media groups for business owners this week, when I saw a comment asking how people find their own sense of power when they’re struggling. This is something I feel I can offer support with, so I clicked the comments, and saw two responses essentially stating: “Ask yourself why. Get to the root of the problem to solve it.”
The Core Reason
Now, if you know what has triggered, brought up or caused a particular obstacle of difficulty, that can be hugely useful. I would never say that seeking that possible trigger or core reason is unhelpful in the first instance.
However, the human existence isn’t quite that simple, and sometimes, asking ourselves ‘why’ can dig us deeper into the hole of frustration, low mood or stress. In short, sometimes there isn’t a definable reason.
The Effects of Questioning
When we question, or even make a judgement on how we’re thinking, feeling or behaving, we sometimes end up dropping further into that spiral which has a hold on us.
Partly, we feel there should be a reason. Which makes not knowing it very distressing or frustrating. Equally, when we can’t find it, we feel useless or defeated, we feel victimised and perhaps even out of control.
When there is a reason, its good to reflect, to recognise it. However, this reliance on believing there must be a reason can also be unhelpful.
The Alternative Path
We deep thinkers are often caught up in the shoulds, and it’s definitely a hard habit to break. But it can be done. When I’m focused on an emotional state, I complete three steps.
- Check you’re not in horrific danger.
This is a grand move for those of us who are prone to pockets of anxiety. I ask myself three questions, to check I’m okay:
- Am I physically injured? Essentially, do my five senses still work, and am I in pain?
- Am I breathing? Can I still breathe?
- Is the earth still under my feet?
If the answers are all yes, then I know I have time to deal with whatever’s going on. If not, I assess the most important next step. But in that case, ignore this advice because it doesn’t apply, and panic away!
- Reflect on whether there is a known or recognisable reason for how you’re feeling.
As I said, it doesn’t hurt to ask this question once: sometimes knowing why you feel as you do can take all the pressure to “not feel this way” and can stop us from searching for “a reason.”
- Finally, DISTRACT. Seriously.
If there ISN’T a ‘core reason why’, accepting it and not giving it any more of your precious energy and attention is key.
Distractions may include:
- dance to happy music
- do 10 press ups
- play with a pet
- draw a silly stick-figure doodle
- count backwards
- name five things which are green in your environment
If you don’t have a clear reason, then you won’t gain anything else in continuing to focus on the unhelpful feeling.
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