3 Tips For Dealing With Those “Why Me!” “Why Now!” Moments

3 Tips For Dealing With Those “Why Me!” “Why Now!” Moments

Daily Mindfulness Emotions Mindfulness Practice Self Compassion Thoughts

We’ve all had those mornings, shutting off the alarm was hard, time flew by, we are grabbing things as we head out the door without a coat buttoned up and then we spill our coffee, and we are thinking: “It’s going to be a bad day.” or “Really, what else could go wrong!” or “What next?!” And what happens after that? Well, most of the time the day does continue in that direction. But, is it because the day is preset to be bad, or because we’ve already set that expectation in our head and our actions are, unfortunately, creating havoc. We may be moving fast without thinking, without being in the present moment. We are probably thinking about the meeting we are late for, or how this always happens, instead of consciously choosing where we set the coffee down or thinking about how we are driving.

Can we avoid those moments altogether? Well, probably not. The good news is we can definitely minimize these moments by staying in the present moment; planning ahead for our busy times; and developing practices that help our mind pause before it reacts, practices such as Mindfulness, Tai Chi, QiGong, and gratitude. The other news – we are still human and we are surrounded by other humans, and pets, that we can’t always control. Sometimes moments aren’t going to go as planned.  Following are three tips for dealing with those moments when all you can think is “Why me?”  or “Why now?”.Woman taking a breath.

Breathe.  Does every Mindfulness practice need to start with this? Yes. I’m pretty sure that’s the rule. I could say pause or slow down, but many people have been trained to believe that action is good. Therefore, they have an immediate negative reaction to being told they should slow down or pause or hesitate. Breathing is a way of coming back to the present moment and still taking action. Connecting with your breath at any moment is a courageous thing to do, because your breath is going to bring you back to the present moment and connect you to it. Truth be told, we often like to avoid many moments, pretend they don’t exist, hope they go away. Therefore, to always come back to the moment, with curiosity and an intention of learning from that moment is brave. So, when you realize you are in a crazy moment, the first thing to do is bring all of your attention to your breath and follow the flow of breath in and out of the body at least once, maybe 3 times, or until you feel like your head is no longer going to explode.

If you find the breath stressful, which is naturally true for a percentage of the population due to health issues or past trauma, please feel free to come back to the feeling of your feet on the floor or the weight and sensation of your hands instead. You can use breath, feet, or hands as your present moment focus.

Question Your Thoughts.  If you are anything like me your mind is quickly searching for someone/something to blame for this moment. If only that person in front of me wasn’t driving slow, I would be on time.  It’s my husband’s fault, he distracted me this morning and then I forgot …. Darn dogs… kids…  they never listen.  That person knows I had a meeting; they really had to stop by my office right then?  Coffee was too hot. Food took too long to prepare. The person at the coffee shop was slow.  You know the drill. The key here, after using your breath to back off the ledge, is to find a little claMan with question symbols around his head.rity, and maybe some humor, in your thoughts. Ask yourself questions. “Is what I’m thinking true?” Usually we are trying to blame someone because then it isn’t our fault, but does it have to be anyone’s fault? The morning was a little crazy, that customer needed an answer, your child fell – it just happened. Ask yourself, “What just happened?” And without blaming or judgment, “What is my next step or action?” This gives us a chance to pause and choose our next response or action.

Remember, you are not alone.  We are all human. I know I keep repeating this, but I’ve had those moments where I forget and think I’m some perfect being that can control myself and everything else around me, so I’m hoping others have those moments also. Even someone who lives alone in a cabin in the woods, probably has unexpected things happen to them. Seeing our moments as part of a larger human experience helps us realize that life is imperfect and we are not alone. And, if we are lucky, it helps us find some humor in the situation. Sometimes I find myself rushing and then I stop and remind myself, with some kind humor, “You know Christine, just like everyone else the rules of time apply to you. Given that, what can you realistically do before you need to leave the house?”

When we are in the mindset of this is all happening “to me”, it is much easier to get angry or frustrated. If, we can remember we have some control over how we choose to move forward, we aren’t alone, and time applies to everyone, it makes it easier to laugh a little at the spilled coffee or slow person, actually going the speed limit, in front of us and back down out of the stress of the moment.

Additional Resources:

Neff, Kristin. Embracing Our Common Humanity with Self-Compassion. http://self-compassion.org/embracing-our-common-humanity-with-self-compassion/

Seppala, Emma. (February 7, 2014) Benefits of Breathing The Scientific Benefits of Breathing Infographic.  https://emmaseppala.com/benefits-breathing-scientific-benefits-breathing-infographic/

Anger and the hold it has on us.

Everyday Mindfulness Hindrances Thoughts

I have a friend holding onto discontentment and anger.  It’s hard to watch, as he won’t let anyone in and is slowly, through treating others poorly, disintegrating the love and respect others had for him.  This has been his attitude of choice for so many months now that he may not even know why he feels this resistance to his current life or is stuck in this thinking cycle of irritation, anger, resistance, and discontent.  It’s become a habit he holds onto.

Have you ever silod yourself to the point where you feel alone and seperate from everyone? Angry that you are alone? Angry that you don't know how you got there?
Have you ever silo'd yourself to the point where you feel alone and separate from everyone? Angry that you are alone? Angry that you don't know how you got there?

Any state of mind can become a habit and the more we let our mind dwell in these places, the more the mind spins stories that support our feelings.  Our mind loves to take things that happen every day and tell us why “it’s not fair” or why "that person isn't treating us right”.  The mind creates whole stories that haven’t even happened yet and probably won’t happen, "what if's".  We listen to these stories, as truths; we begin to think of everything that happens in terms of ‘us versus them’; and we begin to have an aversion to everything.  We push anything that happens away.  We don’t see the good and just see everything as unpleasant.  Since we don’t want the unpleasant stuff, it continues to support our mistaken belief that we are being robbed of the good life.  Because of this mindset, we miss the pleasant moments, as we are too busy mulling over the unpleasant moments.  We forget that life comes with unpleasant, pleasant, and neutral moments but the real gift that we are given is impermanence.  Each moment will eventually pass and another moment will come up.  This is awesome!  We are guaranteed to have more pleasant moments, just like we are guaranteed to have more unpleasant and neutral moments.  If we can begin to accept all the moments and learn from them, we can move through life with less highs and lows and more joy and ease.

The other thing about a state of mind like anger is it’s only hurting us.  In the long run, the people close to us get tired of it and just leave, or stop hanging out with the angry person.  When we get mired in a state of mind like anger, holding onto that anger is like slowly drinking poison that we have poured for our self.  We sink into suffering that nobody has forced us into; we've created that pool of suffering our self.  To try to put this in perspective, imagine there is a hot stove.  We would never put our hand on the hot stove and then hold it there or keep putting it there.  We would say “Oh!  That stove is hot and that hurts, so to avoid the pain, I will not do that again.”  But yet, we let our mind ruminate about thoughts and create stories around events, that cause us pain and we sink into that pain.  Going over and over in our head about how unhappy we are and how it is somebody else’s fault because they wronged us.  These thoughts cause us deep mental pain and often result in physical pain due to the stress and internalization of the anger.

This mental state of resistance, aversion, and anger is one of the five mental states that most hinder our ability to let go of suffering.  These five mental states cause us suffering and prevent us from dealing with situations in a wise and skillful manner.  They hinder our ability to concentrate, make decisions, and act thoughtfully toward others.  The aversion we experience specifically from this mind state of anger, resistance, and discontentment causes our mind to become cloudy and this fog prevents us from seeing clearly.

But, what’s the best thing about a state of mind like anger?  We can change it.  It’s much easier if we change it before we become mired in it, but no matter where someone is stuck in the depths of unhappiness, stress, distress, or anger, that person, with practice and over time, can become happier, calmer, and more joyful.  This is one of the most joyful things we've learned through neuroscience research in recent years.  Dr. Richard Davidson of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Investigating Healthy Minds has been one of the key researchers in this field.  In addition, the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley also does a great job reporting on this research. At the bottom of this post you can find some links to research on the topic.

An important note, sometimes we have chemical disruptions causing these mind states.  When someone is experiencing depression, or some other altered state that they can't see beyond, this should be dealt with through a professional.  After that person has recovered from the depression, that is the time to learn mindfulness. By practicing mindfulness meditation they may be able to assure they don't relapse.  But, if our attitude is just a habit, meaning we've allowed our self to become mired in the hindrance of anger or resentment and because of this we are stuck in that pattern of thought, of speech, and of action, or perhaps we believe that is our nature – then, through conscious, skillful thought we can make a change.

This is where mindfulness comes into the process.  When you recognize that you are working with a hindrance like anger and you've let it suck all positive interaction from your life following are the initial steps to take.  To follow these steps, you must create a new habit of the mind, but it will be worth it! Using anger as our example:

  1. Recognize when anger, resistance, discontentment are present. Take the time to recognize what that mind state is doing to our body, mind, and feelings?  Is your forehead scrunched? Is your stomach in knots?  Is your breathing shallow?  Do you feel put upon?  Do you feel self-righteous?
  2. Recognize when that state of mind is absent and how that feels in your body, mind, and sensations? Perhaps in the beginning there are only small periods like this but recognize the feeling of light and ease?  Perhaps you notice that your throat isn't tight or you notice the beauty of the trees and birds around you?
  3. Recognize what conditions surround the presence or absence of the anger. What triggered it?  By noticing this you can begin to recognize when a trigger is happening and choose to react in another way.

These three steps won’t be easy and the angry person has to be tired of that mind state and the feeling of doom they are bringing on themselves.  But it is possible to change that feeling of doom to a feeling of enjoying life again just by recognizing the damage being done from these stories our mind is telling.  It doesn't happen overnight, but it can happen with practice.

This is the beginning of a 5 part segment on these hindrances that we use to cause self-suffering.  Have you ever had an experience when you recognized you were holding onto anger and you realized that mind state wasn't serving you?  Feel free to share below, if you are willing.  And don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions!

 

Resources

Paulson, S., Davidson, R. J., Jha, A., and Kabat-Zinn, J. (2013). Becoming Conscious: the science of mindfulness. http://www.investigatinghealthyminds.org/ScientificPublications/2013/PaulsonBecomingAotNYAoS.pdf

Schaefer, S. M., Morozink Boylan,  J., van Reedum, C. M., Lapate, R. C., Norris, C. J., Ryff, C. D., Davidson, R. J. (2013). Purpose in Life Predicts Better Emotional Recovery from Negative Stimuli http://www.investigatinghealthyminds.org/ScientificPublications/2013/SchaeferPurposePLoSONE.pdf

Nauman. E. (2014). Three Ways Mindfulness Reduces Depression. http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/three_ways_mindfulness_reduces_depression The Greater Good Science Center from the University of California, Berkeley.