These last couple of weeks have been very difficult for me, I’ve had to deal with work stress from long hours and tight deadlines, coupled with some personal issues that cropped up at the same time. Like the saying goes, it doesn’t seem to just rain, it pours!
To keep myself going, I kept using an old and simple technique of mine. Whenever I felt a negative emotion welling up, I just told myself:
“Not now, later.”
Sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it(very similar in thought to Pete’s Personal Mantra & Mantra 1 posts)?
The trick here is to use it for negative thoughts or feelings that I knew weren’t useful at that moment. You see, negative emotions, contrary to popular motivational-speak, can be useful, because they contain important positive intentions that need to be addressed. But it’s all in the context.
How did I know which was which? By asking myself if this thought or emotion could be addressed right at that moment. If not, then it wasn’t a useful time for it, and I told my mind to postpone it to a later time when it wouldn’t interfere with my work and when I could feel it and deal with it.
I came about it intuitively, so imagine my surprise when I read over at Matt’s Idea Blog a quote from the book Learned Optimism on his post about Handling Worries:
You can undercut ruminations by taking advantage of their very nature. Their nature is to circle around in your mind, so that you will not forget them, so that you will act on them. When adversity strikes, schedule some time – later – for thinking things over … say, this evening at six P.M. Now, when something disturbing happens and you find the thoughts hard to stop, you can say to yourself, “Stop. I’ll think this over later … at such and such a time.”
Did I ever get back to feeling those negative feelings though? Yes, sometimes, when I got home and had some free time to just sulk and worry. And sometimes, I interspersed those moments watching some comedy TV shows to dilute and interrupt the pattern. And sometimes, I just plain forgot, and felt good for no good reason.