‘It’s ok to feel that way’

This phrase is how I’ve been dealing with anxiety and garbage thoughts lately.

I’ve tried a lot of different things over the past few months (reframing, distracting myself, taking immediate action, telling myself why it’s not a problem, etc) but this phrase has been most effective for me so far. And it’s had the most lasting power; it’s actually been effective for a week since I started focusing on it, which is long for me.

What I mean is, when I notice that I’m either in a garbage/turmoil mindset, or I notice I’m starting to engage with a dread thought, I tell myself ‘it’s ok to feel that way.’ And I truly believe it.

Previously, I had been fighting these feelings, hard. Not on the surface; I’m well aware of how fighting feelings is bad. It was kind of a second-level fight – where I start feeling bad, then I feel bad ABOUT feeling bad. That is where the real damage starts happening.

I’ve been reading ‘The Book of Joy – Lasting Happiness in a Changing World’ by the Dalai Lama, and he touches on this point. Negative feelings are going to come, regardless of how mentally strong/enlightened you are. So beating yourself up over how you’re feeling bad, is not the answer.

It’s so counterintuitive though, at least for me, and such a subtle point – accepting that negative feelings (and second order garbage feelings about the INITIAL negative feeling) are absolutely going to happen.

Previously, I would be lowkey so upset with myself over how I was engaging with a negative thought (dreading taxes for example) – and THEN thinking, hey I thought I was making mental progress, so why am I feeling bad? And then it’s like, am I making progress at all? How come I can’t control my feelings? What am I even doing?

That is how a negative feedback loop is kicked off (at least for me), and that is where I was taking damage. So I’ve been focusing on reminding myself (10+ times a day) when I notice a negative feeling – it’s ok to feel that way. These feeling were always going to happen, and they are inherently transient.

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