You may not have control over every circumstance in life, but you do have control over how you react to them. At any moment, you’re allowed to make a decision.
I reminded myself of that this morning when I woke up “on the wrong side of the bed.”
Not just because it was the wrong side of the bed, but because I had an intense conversation with my husband, Kobi, last night that got my emotions brewing. And even though it was with my husband, I still get what Brene Brown has termed “vulnerability hangovers.”
A vulnerability hangover is when you feel a sense of heaviness and malaise after sharing something about yourself in a deeply personal way, with a sort of uncomfortable vulnerability.
Last night, we went to a Chris Rock show where he spent time making jokes about his recent divorce. It was funny. But also really sad. As newlyweds, there’s something that strikes close to home listening to a recent divorcee discuss the changes that take place from the first years of marriage to the eventual decline. Especially since brand new marriages aren’t always easy to begin with.
This morning, I woke up with the unease of a hangover which my single beer at the show couldn’t have created.
I closed my eyes and woke up again, but the feeling remained.
In that moment, I had a decision to make: give into this feeling and spend the day in bed or get up, create, and serve.
In reading this blog, I’m sure you can assume the decision I made, but I don’t want you to breeze past it. It wasn’t the easy decision to make and it’s definitely not the direction I always decide to take.
But I CHOSE to remind myself of things I know…
IN ANY MOMENT YOU CAN MAKE A DECISION TO FEEL DIFFERENTLY.
Our feelings show up so quickly at times. They feel out of our control. Like something is happening to us.
Moreover, there are times that we find a sense of satisfaction in the negative feelings. Maybe not as a result of the discomfort of the feeling in itself (although for some that can be enough). But as a result of the unintended benefits of being sad. Or worried. Or victimized.
Perhaps the most common unintended benefit is the way others respond to you. Maybe you receive loving responses. Sympathy. Coddling. Softening.
Kobi is always an incredibly loving husband and nothing makes Kobi act more loving than seeing me sad. I would never purposely manipulate his feelings, but having him do what he can to care for me and cheer me up when I’m sad… well, it’s nice.
Some people may not have such loving partners. If that’s the case, and your partner turns into a more gentle and loving person when you’re upset, it’s an even bigger benefit.
Another unintended benefit?
For many women who don’t allow themselves time to rest, it gives them permission to indulge in themselves. Like a woman experiencing a breakup, being fired, or taken advantage of, she’s allowed, and even expected, to self-comfort through lounging, eating, and TV binging.
The benefits may vary from person-to-person, but I’m sure you know what they are for you.
This morning, a part of me wanted to experience those two benefits mentioned above. But I reminded myself that I get to make that decision. Because yes, the results of sulking may feel nice to a certain extent, but they wouldn’t feel nearly as good as making a different decision.
A decision to feel better. A decision to shift my thoughts.
I could decide to release the vulnerability hangover
...and the conversation from the night before
...and the useless worries
and have control over my reaction.
While we always have control over our responses, it’s important to note the distinction between shifting my mindset and forcing my way through work that I just wasn’t inspired to do. It’s not about saying that someone who is depressed just needs to think better thoughts. It’s about making a decision to align myself and take action because, ultimately, that’s what I wanted.
Of course there are times when the best thing you can do is to rest and indulge. But I knew that’s not what I needed. I knew that it wouldn’t serve me in this state.
So… I made a decision to get up. And journal, and read, and meditate. And as I did those things, I felt the cloud lift and the inspiration to write again hit.
Then I was reminded: YOU CAN BE, DO, OR HAVE WHATEVER YOU DESIRE.
It’s always fun to think this way, but I really do believe it’s true. Just thinking about it makes me want to move.
Often, when we feel down, it’s because we want to change something about our circumstances. We can’t control our circumstances at all times, but we can control our responses. Which as a result, may change our circumstances over time. It just might not be as immediate as the changes we can make in our emotional state.
Recognizing that I can be, do, or have whatever I desire also reminds me that I often put too much pressure on the timing of things. Whatever I’m wanting… I want it to happen immediately.
It’s an easy trap to fall into: wanting to make things happen. Rather than trusting that everything is unfolding as it’s meant to. I can do my part and that is all.
Things are always working out for you.