Balanced awareness

In previous posts I’ve repeatedly emphasized the importance of feeling one’s feelings but it’s important to remember that, like everything in life, we need to strive for balance. Just like ignoring ones’ feelings will undoubtedly lead to pain and suffering, so too will getting stuck in feeling ones feelings.

It’s easy to get stuck. Worrying itself can become habitual in our minds as we trick ourselves into believing that we are dealing with our feelings just because we keep them top of mind. But as Daniel Goleman writes in Focus, there’s an important distinction to bear in mind:

The dividing line between fruitless rumination and productive reflection lies in whether or not we come up with some tentative solution or insight and then can let those distressing thoughts go—or if, on the other hand, we just keep obsessing over the same loop of worry. [1]

At some point our brain created these loops of worry because it thought that they would be helpful. They aren’t. When we get stuck in them, we need to remember to interrupt the loop and question whether it’s actually helping us move in the direction of purposefully and productively managing our situations.

It’s important to show ourselves compassion and understanding when we are going through something difficult, but that doesn’t mean we should obsess over why me? This is only another form of avoidance that stops us from actually sitting, and dealing, with the feeling. Finding this necessary balance requires developing a healthy relationship with our feelings. They exist to support us through life, not to take over completely. By regularly checking-in and maintaining a curious and open mind we can pick up their messages without being overwhelmed by them.


[1] Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence, by Daniel Goleman

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