Don't ______ = Crap advice
If you’re ever worried about something, what’s the one piece of advice anyone will give you?
Don’t think about it. Don’t worry about it.
And that’s a load of horseshit. Reader, please don’t think about the color blue.
Uh oh. You’re thinking about the color blue. Get it out of your mind. Come on, no more thinking about blue. STOP THINKING ABOUT IT. Why can’t you stop thinking about it? Why is it stuck there? Ugh why can’t you get something as small as this out of your head. Ok, focus on the Google Chrome icon. Blue. Fuck. What the hell, ok you will not think about blue. Blue. The more you tell yourself to stop thinking about it, the more it remains in your mind.
Energy flows where attention goes.
Sure, it might not bother you to think about the color of the sky, but insert, ‘Don’t think about if he’s cheating on you,’ or ‘Don’t worry about the project at work,’ and you’ve got yourself all aboard what The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck describes as The Feedback Loop from Hell. Where you go around in circles over not only ‘the problem’, but your anxiety <insert other emotions like frustration, nervousness, fear, exasperation> over the fact that you’re feeling the way you do.
It is 100% ok to feel how you feel at any given moment. If you’re frustrated, good. If you can identify that you’re frustrated, even better. Because now you are aware. You are aware of what it is you feel, and if you’re conscious about that feeling you can begin taking the steps to understand your patterns. If you can’t identify what it is you feel that’s when you remain stuck. The human hates to remain stuck and uncertain. But you keep yourself there by automatically suppressing those feelings. Just like you tried to suppress thinking about the color blue when I told you not to. What you resist persists. Remember that.
I call it ‘The Niggle.’ That feeling that just tickles at you in THE MOST ANNOYING way. I can’t trademark this phrase and don’t know who coined it, but if you feel the niggle, follow it. Instead of running from the niggle, face it. The more you do this, the more you sit there in your discomfort, the more you will find the clarity you’ve been seeking. Equally, the more you focus on feeling good, the more clarity naturally comes. Let feeling good be your motivation.
Following the niggle doesn’t mean sit there thinking about why you’re upset that you can’t stop thinking about the color blue. Following the niggle means understanding why you feel ____ about whatever you were originally thinking about, what triggered the emotional response, and matching where you have felt this way before. If you can identify where the pattern started (hint it will be in your childhood — at least the original root pattern), you can understand why you do it, and if the pattern still serves you. Often our patterns are not even our own, but ones we picked up from the influence around us along the way.
I recommend keeping a journal. Create a list of emotions/feelings and fill in the trigger as soon as it happens. Do this for good and bad emotions. The moment you are triggered, write down the trigger and a specific example but also how your mind and body is reacting. Once you have it down on paper, you’ll feel a bit better. Let it go for a few hours (sometimes hard to do), and revisit it when you have calmed down to fill in how it affects you and the habit you’d like to create (if it was a bad trigger). The reason you want to write it down right away is so that you can physically release it. You have written the situation down and you no longer need to waste the energy in your brain holding onto that feeling. Your brain is free to focus on other things because it knows the thought is in a safe place and can be revisited later. And revisiting later to fill out the other portions is important. Don’t do it straight away because you’re too emotional. A few hours or days later, you will be able to look at the situation objectively and recognize if you overreacted, or if your reaction is justified.
Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Do the hard part first. Confront the problem — think about it because happening anyway.
Life isn’t unicorns and rainbows so don’t live in that illusion. Everything bubbles to the surface. Burst the little bubble you’re living in and use those moments that cause you pain or discomfort to illuminate the next part of the path. Follow the niggle.