As a child, I was not fond of roller coasters and it took nearly seventeen years before mustering enough courage to give it a go. Perhaps my stomach was averse to the steep slopes, constant twisting, and furious turns, leaving it on the verge of regurgitation rather than invigoration. This was not my idea of having fun by any means.
But it would be difficult to find a better analogy for how most of our emotions have been happening these past several months. This last week was a particularly fitting example for me. The emotional highs and lows haunted me with the expectations of riding a roller coaster at night.
As I now reflect on the week’s events, there was nothing unusually traumatic which should have triggered such diverse and opposing feelings, and after a little time has passed, it seems trivial and almost pitiful to have allowed them to overwhelm me; especially since many others are facing much more tumultuous circumstances than I.
Hang on for the ride
Typically – well, at least pre-COVID times – lines for roller coaster were long and slow. Anxious riders eagerly awaited their turns and when it finally came time to board and buckle in, their hearts began pounding as they slowly trekked up the long incline to begin their breathtaking excursion.
After all the twists, turns, and upside-down moments of their adrenaline-charged ride, the reactions could be as different and varied as the number of people on board. Some were extremely exhilarated and rushed to do it again while others wished it would have ended after the first loop. But no matter which feeling each rider encountered, the ride always came to an end.
The E-Ticket Ride
Even the slightest thought of being forced on that ride would set the butterflies in my stomach on a hurried frenzy.
The ride begins
Interestingly, our emotional roller coasters sometimes evoke similar perceptions as those we experience at amusement parks. While some may enjoy the crazy twists and turns, others would prefer to sit them out. We seldom have the option to disembark from our figurative roller coaster. In fact, we rarely have the option to choose which ride we’d like to experience. The only choice is to hang on and ride it out – or that may be what is often perceived to be the only choice.
We must learn how to more than just survive these troubling conditions but indeed thrive during these difficult and turbulent times.
Keep in mind all our experiences differ and extenuating circumstances may require the aid of a trained professional, but the best time to take action is when the bumpy moments begin. Our emotions can run fast and high; in a matter of minutes, they may demonstrate completely opposite extremes.
Sometimes I’ll say to myself or even out loud, “I’m feeling awful right now and I’m okay with feeling this way”. Allowing and accepting this unwanted frame of mind as well as acknowledging it and understanding you are not a terrible person for having these feelings, has the power to diminish and weaken its hold and influence over you.
The one expression I often hear when it comes to defeating these kinds of situations is “letting it go.” While I would never disagree with this advice, some have difficulty comprehending what that precisely means or how to implement it. If our emotions were something we physically carried, letting it go would be as simple as dropping it or throwing it in a trash can.
Remember also there is a strong possibility if others were in your shoes, they would be experiencing similar moods. Realizing both your current state is normal and not uncharacteristic, you can now consider forgiving yourself for having those emotions in the first place. Say to yourself or even out loud, “I forgive you for feeling this way.” The self-forgiveness will metaphorically allow you to take your hand off the emotionally damaging bag and discard it.
There is still plenty of uncertainty facing us and the end of this roller coaster continues beyond our line of sight. But this is no reason to constantly be tossed and turned at the whim of any obstacle in our path. Begin today to do your best to negate life’s challenges and learn to overcome them with some simple techniques. If you have any questions, you are always welcome to leave your thoughts below or reach me directly