Why feeling rubbish can be easier than feeling happy

Several months ago, I wrote a post about asking better questions.

The following day, I wrote this:

Today it’s hard to care about making such efforts. The exhaustion of getting nowhere and of constantly struggling has reached the point of overwhelm.

Every now and again, dark days descend and today is such a day. What fascinates me is the ease with which I can throw my hands in the air and give up. Of course, I know this is a temporary state but, as an observer of my behaviour, I am endlessly fascinated by this state when it arises.

I eat (and eat…and eat). I cry. I am dismissive, whiney and self-centred. It’s pretty grim.

As I stand cooking dinner (with a quick break to write this), it occurs to me how much ‘easier’ this state is. I only have to think about myself. I no longer have to focus on the consequences of my actions – I already have so much to apologise for when this is over, what’s one more slight? – and I have momentum. There is a flow to the negativity. It requires no effort or energy to go with it.

The pursuit of health, fulfillment, and happiness takes discipline and constant effort while this miserable state of overwhelm and powerlessness is one where you can let go of everything and just roll down the hill. Sure, it hurts but trying to stop now would hurt more.

I can see how people might be drawn to living their lives this way. The alternative is a hell of a lot more work.

Tomorrow I’ll ask better questions but for today, I rant self-indulgently instead.

I didn’t post this when I wrote it but, regardless, the depressive state that followed stayed with me for several days as I gave in to it. Doing anything else just felt too difficult.

In the months since that episode, I’ve learned something new about why it seems so much more difficult to make the effort to feel better and I think the answer has something to do with focus.

I’m currently exploring the Law of Attraction and I’m reminded of something I wrote about in the past. When low feelings are central to the experience they gain strength and momentum and the most natural and obvious response is to give in to the overwhelming weight of them. For me, that means a variety of self-destructive behaviours that ultimately fuel more negative feelings.

The trick, according to the Law of Attraction, appears to involve a change in focus in order to attract something else instead. Apparently, this change in focus changes your vibrational energy and that’s what allows you to attract something else. This bit remains a little lost on me but I’m going with it for now and that means I have to strengthen my ability to shift focus.

Changing the point of focus

Here are the things I currently do.

  1. Recognise the existence of another choice. There are other ways to feel. I ask, “What do I want to feel?”
  2. Find a quiet space to write or meditate in order to move towards that feeling.
    • Writing – I focus on the positive feeling I would like to experience and think about how to attract that feeling. I keep writing until I begin to feel it.
    • Meditation – I attempt to create a break in focus so I am neither focused on the positive or the negative feeling. I imagine it a bit like stopping time or going to sleep for the night. The end of the meditation marks a fresh start and I make an effort to move forward from there.
  3. If the negative feeling persists, accept that it holds a lesson within it. It has something to teach me about what my thoughts and actions are attracting into my experience. This part is tricky – it’s tough to learn from feelings without making them the focus and ending up feeling worse. I think this is the reason I’ve given up in the past. When first attempts to feel better fail, it’s easy to assume my only option is to wait until the feelings pass on their own.
  4. Seek productive input – listen to an audiobook or podcast that might help me solve the puzzle or learn the lesson. When my own thoughts can’t dig me out of the funk, I turn to the thoughts of others who are more experienced and have wisdom and guidance to offer. If possible, I listen whilst walking or running. I think this helps release the physical stress that accompanies negative emotion and I find I’m better able to make use of the information this way.

Have you found useful ways to move from positive to negative states? I’d love to know more about what works for you.

Photo by Chinh Le Duc on Unsplash

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