I have a quirky trait of stubbornly “making do” when faced with a task requiring a specific tool. My resistance rises with even the thought of purchasing a tool when I think that I may have an object that was made for a different purpose but will do in a pinch within arms reach. This approach has always seemed simpler, more practical and oh-so-much-more efficient than the alternative of the time-guzzling acts of browsing, shopping, listing pros and cons of which one is the best to buy, spending money on then cleaning, storing and organizing all the tools until the end of time! Doth she protest too much? Methinks so.
Beyond my issues with the traumas of shopping, and my still firm desire to just get the job done effectively and efficiently, I am growing in my appreciation for the wisdom of using the right tool for the job.
Despite our love affair with our minds and the wonders they perform, when it comes to emotions and moods, the mind and its incredible ability to problem-solve external situations is precisely the wrong tool for this type of internal work.
Emotions are not problems to be solved. They exist to be felt. Why then do we feel the need to enlist our minds into action, to swoop in heroically and solve our problem of unhappiness, disappointment, fear, anxiety, anger or depression? The answer is because we don’t like to feel uncomfortable and will numb ourselves to these signpost emotions that we’re off our path.
Instead of feeling the emotions, we question why life is hard for us but so easy for everyone else. We wonder why we can’t seem to just get over our hurt and resentment quickly. We speculate on what we did to deserve the pain. And we ruminate on the darkness of our lives thereby increasing the gap from where we are to where we think we want to be.
Trying to “solve” emotional issues through thinking is like digging the trench deeper. The deeper we dig the trench, the more accustomed we become living in a trench and it then becomes a future platform for the unproductive process of thinking through our feelings.
There is a way out of the self-built trench that may include professional intervention but could also be supported by:
- Taking our minds off the pedestals
- Remaining keenly aware of our mind’s desire to be in charge
- Developing a practice of sitting with overwhelming emotions
- Noticing when our mind tries to hijack the process
Our minds have their place but our vulnerable yet resilient inner workings deserve the use of the right tool for the job.