"The most challenging times bring us the most empowering lessons."
- Karen Salmansohn
We have this mindset here in North America that the best way to get through tough times is to remedy any bad feelings by stuffing them down or covering them up.
We use whatever our "drug of choice" is - be it actual drugs, alcohol, TV, food, sexual promiscuity, exercise, sleep...whatever...to mask any bad feeling that we may have about what ails us.
Yes...even activities that are "good" for us - like working out and sleep - taken to extremes - become not so good for us.
Extreme behaviour, if taken on as avoidance "tools", is not healthy.
If you are going through stressful times - as we all do - addictive tendencies often pop up because we really have been socially programmed to keep up to the status quo...to keep on keeping on as usual...to mask any unpleasant symptoms in order to keep up with our busy lives.
But really, the only healthy way out of a difficult time - be it a health issue (physical, mental or both), a life-changing event such as loss of a loved one, or a job, a divorce, whatever...is to bravely trudge THROUGH it.
|Hey...I am apparently related to Churchill...so maybe I should listen to him!
Now I am not saying one should not take medication when needed or get sleep, or workout...of course!...but it is the EXTREME behaviours that people must be aware of.
In order to effectively deal with stressful situations, we have to be able to FEEL what we are feeling instead of masking our feelings; masking them constantly.
If we don't learn to deal with stress in healthy ways, the problem won't go away...only the SYMPTOMS will be covered up.
Self-care is something I write about a great deal on this bloggy-blog.
This is partly because I understand how easy it is to fall into addictive behaviours when I am feeling down or going though a particularly stressful time in my life - which seems like more often then not these days.
And I know I am not alone here.
Hence this post.
I wrote a post a while back entitled Your Lonely Addiction - that actually garnered a lot of attention from addicts, addiction professionals and even family members and loved ones of people going through rough times.
But addictive behaviour does not only come in the forms that we usually associate "addiction" with. Alcohol. Drugs. Eating disorders.
Well...a few of them include emotional eating, bad TV, sleeping during the day and even too much time social media-ing (I realize this is not a real word!).
|Don't I know it!
Getting lost in these activities as avoidance mechanisms, rather than dealing with whatever it is that I really should be focusing on is not healthy if taken to extremes...and I too struggle.
Even writing is an escape for me. Albeit an often therapeutic and helpful one...sometimes I write when I should be focusing on other things. Yes...I procratiwrite.
Experts agree (and no, I am not one of these experts!) that the only way out is to walk through it..like fire. I talked about this recently in Life is Like Photography. You need those negatives that life throws you in order to develop (and grow) into a fuller, happier person.
These hard times can sometimes be wake-up calls, or as Oprah likes to call them "A-ha" moments; moments or on-going struggles that mean we need to stop and re-evaluate where we need to go next in our journey that is our life.
|Take down the umbrella and feel the rain.
And the only way do do this is to feel what you are feeling.
Take the bad with the good.
Instead of assuming that you are supposed to feel great all the time, realize that bad feelings can often be important catalysts for positive change - if we only take the time to feel them, understand them, walk through them and then make choices that bring us to a new and better place.
So next time you are feeling bad, instead of reaching for an instant gratification "fix", try to sit with your feelings. (Yes...much easier said...or written..than done!).
FEEL your feelings.
And ask yourself "What is my mind...my body...my self...trying to tell me?
What is my life...in this very moment...trying to TEACH me?
You may learn something very important.