What's Your Default?
Stop and think for a moment. What is your default emotion? When you wake up in the morning are you generally in a good mood? Would you consider it happy? Grumpy? Melancholy? We all experience a wide arrange of emotions throughout our week, but for most of us it narrows down to 1-3 primary defaults. Sure, traffic may tick you off, the cutie baby giggles coming from the shopping cart in front of you might bring an extra smile...but when there are no immediate outside influencers in your day...what's your default? Most importantly, are you happy with that answer?
We all have a general state of being. Happy, content, enthused, angry, tired, frustrated...they are all a state of being through which we filter what we see in the world. If your default isn't what you'd like for it to be then there is hope. See we create our emotional state through 3 primary factors. Shift those things and you are guaranteed to shift your current emotional state of being.
One - Focus
Two - Language
Three - Physiology
What do you focus on each day? What do you think about when there is nothing demanding your thoughts? Let's look at one example. You wake up, your lying in bed and your first thoughts of the day are:
"I've got to look at all my bills today and figure out exactly how much I owe.
How did I even get here, why did I spend all that money?
How the heck am I going to pay off all this debt?
I'm so stupid to have let myself get to this point."
Now...clear your mind, new day, debt hasn't gone anywhere, but you wake up with a different set of questions.
"I am so thankful that my partner has stuck by me through this.
I have three client meetings today and even if just one of them lands, that will take care of bills for the next 2 weeks.
Despite the setbacks, life is pretty good and this situation is just temporary, a problem to be solved."
Do you see the difference?
The situation itself hasn't changed. What changed is what you chose to focus on and the language you decided to use with yourself.
It happens to all of us. The voices in our head (not the creepy "Shining" voices, just the Jiminy Cricket voices), they guide our emotional state of being. If you learn to direct your voices, to make conscious decisions about what you say to yourself...then YOU get to control your emotional state of being. Rather than telling yourself that you're a failure, ask yourself "what did I learn from that?". Rather than telling yourself you're always exhausted, ask yourself "What do I need to feel more energized?". Rather than believe what other people tell you about yourself, decide what YOU believe is true about you. Once you start saying "I'm a work in progress, not perfect, but constantly focusing on improvement" (or some version of that)...it allows your mind to open doors of opportunity and self forgiveness that weren't available to you before.
Well, it's 2020, so if you lived through this crazy year with me you know that focus has been TOUGH! Covid 19, unemployment rates through the roof, wildfires like we've never seen before, economic uncertainty...the list goes on and on. Focus has not been my specialty this year, and I know it hasn't been for a lot of you either. But, I will say this, the minute I start choosing to focus on things that I can control like my health/fitness, working on strategy for business pivots that are necessary, or simply focusing on the fact that I'm OK...things get easier. You social feed, your worrisome grandmother, your Debbie downer best friend...push pause. Decide what it is that you want to focus on today. What are the things that lift you up, that make you happy, or simply that help you remember...that you ARE ok. Take the time to write them down, put them on the frig or your mirror...stop the monkey mind that keeps you trapped in the negative. What you focus on has impact. Make it something good.
There is one last thing that has massive impact on your state of being, your physiology. When exercising, even just walking, the body produces chemicals that help your body function more efficiently and work to change your emotional state. Dr. James Blumenthal PhD of Duke University had a study that showed significant changes in depression from those who used exercise as part of their therapy vs those who did not. Is that really any surprise? Don't you feel better after going for a walk or a run? Your physiology consists of not just your movement either. Think about how you stand...are your shoulders slumped over, head down, back bent feeling like the weight of the world is on your shoulders? Or do you stand tall, chest out, shoulders back excited to explore what the world has to offer you today? Do you feel the difference?
If you've been struggling with negative emotions, try shifting just one or two things this week. Go for a walk. Stop and make a conscious choice to focus on what you're grateful for. Talk to yourself or your partner in a more loving way. Finding a new default doesn't happen overnight for most people, but being aware and making an effort to shift is always worth the effort.