“It’s not whether you get knocked down; it’s whether you get back up.”
– Vince Lombardi
No matter how good you get at being a “Yes” to your life, sooner or later you’re bound to get upset and be caught in a thought loop – you know, one of those repetitive series of thoughts that go round and round in your head like a hamster on a wheel going nowhere. A thought loop is when a series of repetitive thoughts overtake you and you entertain a conversation with yourself about things like:
How unfair it is.
How they did you wrong.
How you have made a mistake.
How you wish you could do it over.
Sometimes you may doggedly chew on an event that has already happened, reworking it to your liking. You rerun an argument in your thoughts, and you come up with a better comeback so you can win the fight or you tell yourself the things you should have said to make your point. At other times, you’ll search for a new outcome to something that you can’t change. For example, let’s say you got in a fight with someone – perhaps a loved one like your partner, spouse or parent – and harsh words were exchanged. Then later, often at night as sleep eludes you, you may alternate between justifying your actions and berating yourself for your behavior. Sound familiar? If so, don’t be embarrassed and don’t worry: You’re normal.
When thought loops happen, most people who are living a transformational lifestyle will experience a crisis of self-doubt. After sailing along for weeks, months or perhaps even years, it is especially disturbing to find yourself unexpectedly upset once again. It’s so easy to contract and think that you’re “no good” at being present and saying “Yes” to your life. When this happens, you instantaneously lose your ability to be a non-judgmental observer of your thoughts.
Here is a sequence of events that might occur:
First, you are likely to remind yourself that “what you resist persists and grow stronger.” Sometimes this mental reminder is enough to pop the upset like a soap bubble. Often though, it may only give relief for a moment and then the repetitive thoughts begin again as you forget your moment of clarity and jump right back into the torrent of thoughts that being upset produces. You may even recognize that you are being “right” but at the moment you don’t care because you are right after all. Sooner or later you are also likely to come to the conclusion that you’re really bad at this “transformation thing,” that you haven’t gotten anywhere, and that you are better off going away until you get it back together or worse yet, before you are seen as stupid or as a hypocrite by your family and friends. Does any of this sound like you? Does any of it sound familiar?
When you find yourself in this state here are a few tips and tricks that we have found useful if you really want to bring yourself back to center rather than wallow in the upset:
You aren’t alone – really.
When you have been snared by a disturbing thought loop, friends can help. Contrary to how it may seem when you’re lost in an upset, they even want to help. Don’t be afraid – reach out. A burden shared is far lighter and at times with sharing, the upset can be swept away like gossamer.
Your senses can bring you back…well…to your senses.
Use your senses – touch, taste, smell – as ways to bring you back to center once again. A good meal, sex, a hot shower where you really feel the water sluice over you can do the trick. Sitting quietly, going for a walk, cleaning out that junk drawer, scrubbing the grout on the bathroom tile – all of these will work to bring you back to yourself. Playing with a child, or a pet, watching birds, listening to the surf, taking a run, completing things around the house and 1000 more things can bring you back.
Don’t underestimate the power of a good meal.
When you’re upset, it’s common for people to reach for “comfort food”. However, for many this means cookies, potato chips, ice cream and chocolate. While these foods aren’t wrong or bad per se, it can be surprisingly beneficial and grounding to actually fix yourself or go out and get a good meal without the sugar load. Think of it as fuel to reboot your well-being.
Don’t underestimate the power of getting some sleep.
When you are overtired your body becomes stressed and it becomes fertile ground for upsets to sprout, take hold and bloom. It is amazing what sleep can do. It recharges your mental, emotional and physical batteries so that you are naturally relaxed and refreshed. This one simple thing can make a world of difference and will support you in being “yourself” again.
Give it time.
When you’re disturbed it is like being pumped full of an upset drug or akin to having the flu virus. Sometimes you simply need to ride it out and be aware that “this too shall pass.”
Remember you haven’t failed.
No need to be embarrassed. No need to hide. You haven’t failed any more than the child who is learning to walk has when he or she falls on his or her behind. Simply get up and keep going again. With practice you can rest assured that it will take a stronger current, a bigger wave to knock you off your feet the next time.