It happens, you know. There are times when even a happiness coach is not happy. Happiness, like all emotions, is fleeting and so, to maintain it one must practice doing the things that create happy and positive emotions – often. Most days, my focus, determination and devotion to my path allow me to experience happiness, joy, excitement, curiosity – or some other form of positive emotion – much of the day.
On occasion though, my natural tendencies to worry, obsess, awfulize, or disasterize take over. After all, we live in world where negativity, pain and fear assault our senses for many of our waking hours. Even when we don’t think we’re taking it in, our subconscious minds are absorbing the images, sounds, and feelings that are projected from one of the many screens in front of us – broadcasting a disaster from somewhere in the world.
Many of us – especially the sensitive ones – get weary with all this bombardment. We get stressed and then we get triggered. We can get triggered by a thought, a memory, by something someone says, even by a scent.
Once a trigger is activated, we can to fall into the funk zone (that is, if we are not paying attention to our opportunities to stay out of it.)
While I have many tools in my toolkit, as I continue along my path of positivity, I’ve learned that my genetic disposition to be cranky and dissatisfied sometimes takes reign over my conscious choice to be happy. *
[You might remember that 50% of our ability to experience happiness is genetic in nature. Let’s just say I was not one of those happy babies.]
Most of the time I can catch myself before falling down that rabbit hole of sadness, anger, grief and/or sorrow and use my tools to pivot from a negative emotion and lean into a more positive one. Usually I am mindful enough to notice the change in mood, the lethargy, the tightness in my chest and throat or one of the many indications that I’m headed in a direction that doesn’t bode well for positivity.
Sometimes, even though I have the skills necessary to stay on a more positive path, gravity grabs hold of me and tosses me downward before I can muster up the power to turn the spiral upward.
Recently after sliding into the funk zone – the rabbit hole – the dark night of the soul (we all have different names for it) and not being able to extricate myself with the tools I had, I chose to sit there and not resist it. I chose to use it as a learning place and settled in for the ride.
As a sense of almost-despair crept over me, I reminded myself that I am still in the grieving process for my Mom. When I allowed myself to feel what I was feeling, a great gasp rose in my throat and I cried and cried.
We are all grieving – someone or something. It’s so important to remember in our quest for positive emotions, that negative emotions play an important role too. They move us, they motivate us, they force us to look at what’s not working for us, and they bring us face to face with old beliefs that don’t serve us. Often they help us to see something we need to change and jump start our healing process.
Sometimes they simply slow us down when we need to stop for a while and let our souls catch up. Welcome to the funk zone. Often, it’s a learning place.
My little trip to the dark side of my soul ultimately took me on a journey of forgiveness and understanding. I listened to the voices in my head so I could hear their concerns, which were real and needed to be addressed with love and kind attention. I reached out to a friend for support and understanding and remembered that this “negative place” was an important part of my being human.
Our ability to experience negative emotions has played an important part in our evolution. Negative emotions can keep us safe. They act as early warning systems. They ground us. They alert us. They focus us. They bring contrast and help us clarify our desires.
Negative emotions are good in small doses. Gratuitous negativity, like gratuitous violence, is harmful to just about everyone as it seeps into our systems and turns on the stress reaction and its outpouring of fear chemicals.
Scientists tell us that the Positivity to Negativity Ratio that will take us from languishing to flourishing is 3:1, so when you are finding the funk zone is outliving its usefulness as a learning opportunity you can begin to lean into a better feeling state by getting back to your positivity practice.
Move your body – exercise, dance, take a walk. Sing out loud. Lovingly and mindfully make some fresh lemonade or your favorite tea. Buy yourself some flowers. Make a list of things for which you are grateful. Make an action list of things you will change based on the information you gleaned on your funky journey. Make a list of things that trigger you. Clean out a closet. Donate your time to someone needier than you. Make a big bowl of soup and share it with a friend.
Lean in to positivity. One thought at a time. One action at a time. All with intention to feel good. It’s all part of your learning journey.