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How to halt the runaway train of emotions

May 23, 2022

Ups and downs

Last week, I didn’t feel so great. I felt low, blue, lethargic and I didn’t want to do anything. I didn’t want to work, I didn’t want to speak to anyone, I just felt like hiding under the duvet. It felt like a grey cloud had descended. I was feeling bleurgh, but I couldn’t pinpoint the exact reason why. For if I could, I could surely sort it.

My husband and I take it in turns to walk the dogs in the morning and if it’s not a day when I take the hounds out, that lack of exercise can manifest itself into a feeling of lethargy. However, even walking the dogs wasn’t doing the trick last week. The morning walk wasn’t getting me into the right mindset. So what was going on?

Tiredness? Sometimes this means we can't see the wood for the trees. Maybe recently joining the gym and getting used to all this new exercise was taking it's toll, as my body got used to the new routine. But it didn’t feel like just tiredness. My eldest is taking her GCSEs- I know I’m thinking about her a lot and keeping an eye out to ensure her mindset is in a good place; I don’t like to subscribe to the phrase: 'You’re only as happy as your most miserable child’ but, well, I do subscribe to it, rightly or wrongly. Whilst we cannot make our children happy or confident– we can only create an environment where our children can create their own happiness and confidence, ultimately, it’s down to them. However, when they don't feel in a good place, well, we love them and it can hurt to see them like that.

Maybe I felt like I did because one of my children had COVID. We had a family party at the weekend, and she didn’t show symptoms until afterwards, so I worried if she’d been infectious around them; also, her chest has been feeling tight with the virus – a symptom she didn’t have when she had COVID back in October. And I had a funeral last week for one of my lovely neighbours.

It could have been any one of these things, or all of them all together which my brain was processing and hence the emotions I was feeling.

It’s OK not to be OK, but it’s not OK to stay that way

How did all this present itself? Well, I found it challenging to motivate myself to get showered and dressed. I kept checking my phone for messages, things of interest on social media, looking at the news headlines – anything that would distract me from my thoughts. I got cross that not enough family had checked in about how my daughter was feeling since finding out she’d got COVID, so I nearly left one of the family WhatsApp groups; I started surfing online clothes shops – my guilty pleasure- but I knew if I bought anything I’d feel really cross with myself later and it would be a needless purchase. That’s the difference between pleasure and happiness – pleasure is time-related, and the excitement of a new purchase would soon disappear. And, I almost left a community group I’m in because messages were flying back and forth about a new project ,and I was finding it all too overwhelming.  

It was a barrage of unhelpful thoughts, emotions and behaviours and whilst it’s OK not to be OK, it’s not OK to stay that way. I knew I had two choices- I could surrender to these thoughts leading to nothing productive taking place and then I’d get to the end of the day and feel really frustrated with myself that all I’d done was to allow the minutes and hours to tick by whilst I pointlessly searched the net, or scrolled through inane social media posts, or felt depressed when reading the news headlines about the war in Ukraine (doesn’t that help to put things into perspective?!), inflation, energy price hikes, climate change and so forth, or, I could try certain things to shift my mood – to reframe my thoughts to get a different result to the current one which, let’s face it, wasn’t very helpful to me or any poor soul who might come into contact with me!

It was important to acknowledge that these resulting emotions could be transient - that they were probably down to any number of factors mentioned above, and that if I could get to the root- the nature of my thoughts and how I was thinking about the various components, the emotions would change. It was advisable not to dwell on any irrational thoughts because irrational decisions might be made (such as exiting a WhatsApp group which would create a backlash likely to last way longer than any of my thoughts and feelings!). It was therefore important to work on shifting this way of thinking.

The benefits of small wins

So, I started by going for some easy wins. Now, I’m currently reading the book Eat that Frog by Brian Tracy, the premise of which is to stop the procrastination by doing what you perceive as the hardest thing – first. A great concept and one that I practice – I do recommend the book. However, if your mood isn’t about fear of failure, inertia or procrastination, and it’s about feeling pretty low that day, I think it’s about creating some small positive moments which you can build on.

Tidy house, tidy mind is something I live by. A few tasks around the house and it made a dent and a difference to feeling more in control. Tidy email inbox, tidy mind – working through some correspondence enabled me to feel more in control at work too. Simple tasks to get my brain gradually changing gear – the wins enabled me to reframe my thoughts. Once that was done, it meant a reframed mindset could work through the way I was thinking about the things in my life that I was finding it difficult to process.

When you’re feeling low, blue, lethargic, lack lustre, it’s important to listen to and acknowledge your thoughts, process them and begin the work to understand why you are thinking the way you are.

Sometimes it can feel like turning an oil tanker around but that can happen, it’s turning the wheel slowly but surely and gradually the change in direction takes place.

I can’t lie, the prevailing mood only lifted a little as the week went by but gradually, the oil tanker began to turn. After a couple of sessions in the gym, long dog walks, and a few good nights sleep, I woke up feeling a different person. Still in the family WhatsApp group I’d thought about leaving, still able to support my daughter as she prepared for yet another exam, still happy to make copious cups of tea for the daughter suffering with COVID symptoms. And my husband was joyous to return home to a happier and smiling me.

No matter how much you know about this mindset stuff, it doesn’t mean you are impervious to ever feeling depressed, stressed, sad, angry, frustrated or irritated. We can all have those times when we know our thoughts and feelings aren’t rational – when we know we need to get things into perspective, yet rational thoughts and perspective doesn’t always feel possible. We need to ride the wave and wait for the storm to pass. And sometimes it does. Sometimes it doesn’t though. That’s when intercepting the loop of those thoughts is necessary. For the small instances in life, with the knowledge of mindset tools and strategies, you know it’s down to you and if the desire is there, you can think your way out of it. You can ride the storm and come out the other side.

For those times in life when the big things take place, it takes time to decide how you want to think and feel. But know that you can move forward, even if you have no idea how at first. If the belief is there in the back of your mind, over time, it can happen.

The key is to be consciously aware of the nature of your thoughts and the resulting emotions. That way, you can think about the way you are thinking. If your emotions feel like they are running wild, you can work on reframing your thoughts. Easy? Not always. But possible.

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Do you sometimes feel as if your thoughts and emotions are like a runaway train? Does it feel like you have little or no influence over them whatsoever?  

The Mindset Coaching Membership can help you understand the tools and strategies needed to get your mindset in check. With Masterclass Teachings + Coaching + Accountability, we will help you to create the life you want. Find out more here.

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