I’ll just say it. I’m prone to mood swings. When I’m happy, I’m really happy. I feel it perfectly and intensely and could almost spill over with the sensation of being totally filled up and satisfied. At the same time, when I’m upset, or angry, I’m perfectly upset or angry.
No matter the logic you use, you’ll be hard pressed to talk me out of feeling that way.
Feeling things is a gift. I choose to view it that way. It is what makes me a good writer, and it is also what makes me highly empathetic to others.
And yet, I have to admit there are times this doesn’t always feel like a gift.
There are times I wish I could not empathize with someone because it hurts to feel empathy, and because when you empathize too much with too many people, after awhile you begin to feel the weight of the whole world on your shoulders.
There are also times (when I blow things out of proportion) that my tendency to feel deeply can alienate me from relationships, disconnect me from reality, and prevent me from making calm, clear-headed choices. There are times when my tendency to over-emote can derail my entire day.
Recently I’ve been focusing on keeping my mood swings in check by reminding myself of a few things I choose to believe—despite how I feel—every morning.
The list goes like this:
1. The world is a good place where good things often happen
Of course bad things sometimes happen too, but when I start my day with the assumption that good things often happen, my attention tends to be drawn to the good things that happen to me and around me. When an outcome is hanging in the balance, this assumption keeps me from wasting time with needless worry.
Either way, focusing on good things keeps me from catastrophizing my life. Even if I have a bad day, chances are tomorrow will be better.
2. People are not out to get me
Assuming that people are not out to get me (that most people, most of the time, are doing the best they can) keeps me from overreacting when someone does something I don’t like, that frustrates me or hurts my feelings.
I can’t fully understand the motives behind others’ actions, but I also can’t control them. I can only assume that their motives weren’t to hurt me, and I can choose to grow—rather than retaliate—when I’m offended.
3. What feels like a “crisis” is rarely as tragic as it seems
The things that feel like a “crisis” in our daily life—missing a flight, running out of gas, being late for a job interview, even a bad injury—will rarely seem as tragic when we look back on it two, five or ten years from now.
I try to remind myself of this fact at the beginning of each day, so that when “crisis” comes I can stay calm and make clear-headed choices.
4. I still have a lot to learn
Keeping this in mind keeps me from the fruitless task of trying to change the mind of someone who thinks differently than me. It keeps me humble and teachable, and allows me to approach life with my eyes wide open.
It keeps me from getting frustrated with others who have a lot to learn too. After all, we all do.
5. The game isn’t rigged
I don’t know about you, but sometimes it feels like the “game” of life is rigged. Some people are set up to be successful. Others aren’t. Some have the resources. Others don’t.
The truth is we’re all dealt a different hand in life, but the game isn’t rigged. We all get out what we put in (we reap what we sow). The journey is the reward.