Sometimes, no matter how positive our attitudes are in general, we can all fall victim to feeling trapped inside some negative feelings. . . especially about ourselves. It's all too easy to feel that we're not “good enough", or that those around us are happier and more successful than we are. At times, this can often lead us to feel and express anger. . . often directed at no one in particular, or at the first person or thing we come in contact with. Maybe it's just a little thing that sets us off, like someone cutting us off in traffic, or maybe making a joke at our expense. . . a joke that, in any other circumstance we would probably laugh at as well.
There are probably a thousand different ways to deal with these feelings. For me, there are three ways that work the best and fastest. Three ways that make me feel better about myself and ease the tension I'm feeling. They're not magical. . . they won't transform you into the world's most popular person. . . and they're not the be-all-end-all of self contentment. But, they can certainly give you feelings of accomplishment and control over your negative emotions. . . at least they do for me.
When I find myself getting upset or out of sorts, the first thing I do is stop and see just how the intensity of my feelings at the moment match up to the reason for my feelings. For example, if I find myself agitated by someone asking me a lot of questions while I'm busy, the first thing I do is ask myself - “what if I were in the position of the person asking the questions?" I try to step outside of my feelings at that moment and see how it feels on the other side of the situation. If I find that, in this situation, I really am too busy, I calm myself down, and ask the person needing my attention, if they could wait for a few minutes. The trick, which really isn't a trick at all, is to realize that the situation is so trivial, that anger or agitation is not an appropriate response. In short - try to tailor the emotional response to the given situation.
Believe it or not, this is not a very difficult thing to do. You've probably seen those bumper stickers out there that read “Practice Random Acts of Kindness". Well, to be honest with you. . . it works. It's relatively simple to do, and it makes you feel good about yourself. But more importantly, while feeling good about yourself. . . you're actually accomplishing something for someone else at the same time. It doesn't have to be a world changing event. In my case, I make sure that my cover-band performs several benefits a year for causes that I believe in. I still get to enjoy playing, and at the same time I'm contributing to the success of an organization or idea I support.
If you don't have a band. . . don't worry. The process is still the same. Maybe your neighbor needs help shoveling his driveway, or needs their lawn mowed while they're away on vacation. Maybe the guy on the street REALLY does need that extra quarter or dollar he's asking for. In the scheme of things, what have you got to lose by giving it to him? Your donation to him was an honest one. . . whether or not he needs it, or is scamming you, is a matter for his conscience and feelings of self-worth. You can't lose.
There are more ways to do this than I can mention, but you get the idea. It doesn't take much to make someone smile, and in the process, you just might find yourself smiling too.
Try to find something that you do by habit on a daily basis and change it. . . even if it's only for a day. . . or half a day. The idea is to conquer something that you normally give in to. Again. . . it doesn't have to be a world changing event. As an example, The first thing I like to do when I get up is light a cigarette and down a cup of coffee (I live on both. . . I used to be A blood type. . . now I'm just 100% Columbian). So, when I need to challenge myself. . . I skip the coffee and cigarette and grab a bottle of water instead. Believe me, my mind and body are not happy about this. . . but I tell myself that, “Hell, I can wait the hour and a half it takes me to get to work before I have that first cup of coffee. . . and it certainly won't do me any harm to hold off on that cigarette until my first break. " It's not an impossible goal. . . I'm not asking myself to quit entirely (although that would be a good thing), I'm just asking myself to exercise a little more control over my life than normal. And when I succeed I feel I've accomplished something. . . and that the rest of the day has more potential.
Hopefully, you don't smoke, (I'm certainly not advocating that), but I'm sure there are little things in your daily routine that you can set your sights on and overcome. . . even if only for a little while. Success, not matter how small, is success.
The bottom line is this. . . there are ways of changing your life and controlling your emotions that can actually make you feel better about yourself without demanding that you reinvent yourself from scratch. It seems all too easy, and too much of a cliché, to say that within yourself are the answers to some of your problems. But the truth is. . . some of the answers really are there. Take a look inside, and see if it isn't true.
(c) 2008 Thomas A. Bradley
Thomas A. Bradley http://www.bradleywritingservices.com
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