BETTER THAN HAPPY – Episode 242
This post is a follow-up to yesterday’s post, and my own thoughtwork on the Emotional Reality I’ve created for myself – intentionally and unintentionally.
“Emotional reality: The way that we believe the world is. It’s what we think is just true and what we think is real… The way that we think we are, the way we think we should be.”
I did some thoughtwork with this yesterday, and came up with a list of some of the bricks that I easily recognized in my own Emotional Reality Wall, some I want to keep, some I wouldn’t:
- Marriages are happy and meant to last forever and children add to the happiness of a marriage
- Extended family members can hurt
- A mother should be __________________________
- God hears my prayers
- Everything in life is rigged in my favor
“Our brains love familiarity. They like comfort. We like to feel the same way that we’ve always felt, even if it is not serving us well, because then we can believe that our emotional reality is actual reality – that it’s the truth about the way the world works. Nothing feels scarier to us than to believe that we’re wrong about all of this… We don’t want to believe that. We want to think that we understand what’s real and what’s true. So, we desperately want that emotional reality wall to be satisfied.”
Because we want to be right about the world, and we want these bricks we’ve long accepted to define the world, even when something challenges our beliefs or our bricks, we will find evidence anew to validate that brick in our emotional reality.
Let me explain with an example. Let’s say there was one thing in your marriage – just one thing – that you wish you could change about your spouse, because it’s really stopping you from loving your spouse 100%. Well, if that one thing were resolved – if they stopped playing video games, or started going to church with you, or decided to go vegetarian with you or whatever – if that ONE issue was resolved, you would then find something else that you wished you could change about your spouse so you could love your spouse 100%. Does that make sense? The brick is “I can’t love him 100% unless he ____________”. And even if he does fulfill whatever it is you want, you will find another thing that is stopping you from loving your spouse 100%.
“If we solved that one problem, that one circumstance, then, yeah, you would feel some relief, and it would seem like everything was perfect, but eventually, you would fill in that brick in your emotional wall with one other thing that just isn’t quite right. It would just be something different.”
That brick can keep us stuck. Do you see that?
But a brick may also preserve us and serve us and our relationships well, like the example I used yesterday. I’ve always believed that marriage was meant to be happy and it was meant to last forever. And when that brick in my emotional reality wall was challenged by my own parents, I resisted. My reality couldn’t possibly be wrong. It has been right up to this point in my life, and it has served me well. And maybe I want to keep that brick in my wall. And, when I come to accept that my parents’ marriage didn’t work out, it will still not upset my brick wall, because I will find other cases to prove that, though some marriages end, marriages can last forever – and happily.
So there are bricks that serve us well right now, and bricks that do not serve us well. Then, to the point of today’s post, what can we do about the bricks that are not serving us well right now, if we want a different experience – if we want a different belief about “reality”?
“I want you to be able to take ten steps back, and take a look at your wall and know that it is just an illusion that your brain is creating. None of it is non-negotiable… And the goal is to ultimately change out some of those bricks in your wall.”
Let’s talk about the 50/50. If your negative is more than 50%, there is some work that needs to be done. Right?
“I think that there’s a lot of you who are living with more than 50% negative emotion, at least in a certain area of your life. More than 50% negative emotion about a relationship, or about your body, or about your money. Most people I find have an area of their life where they’re out of that 50/50 proportion. They’re like 70% negative emotion.
If you have a particular area of your life where you notice you have more than 50% negative emotion… then we need to take a look at your emotional reality wall.”
What tools have we been given to do this deep-level work? Not just solving the immediate problem like getting through this Mother’s Day, but changing my belief about what a mother “should” be. Does that make sense? Not just solving the immediate problem, but taking that brick out all together, so it won’t pop up again.
- Recognition. Recognize and give respect to the 50/50. No reason to over-react if things are rough in that particular area 50% of the time. That is part of the human experience. Don’t pile on a secondary emotions. Lean into that primary emotion. Learn from it. Know that it will pass.
- Curiosity. Why do I feel that – why do I believe that? What thought is at the center of that belief?
- Meditation. Positive affirmations. And make sure they are believable positive affirmations. If our affirmations in that particular area are all very negative, maybe start by creating a believable affirmation that is less negative, or, if possible, neutral, before trying to move on to a positive affirmation.
- Practice. Repetition. Give yourself the space – guilt free – to work on your emotions every time the belief or the “reality” arises. Don’t get discouraged when you notice that you are still working on it, 20 times later. Work on your own thinking every time. That’s how you get really good at it. That’s how you own your own power.
I want to try. This very weekend. It’s Mother’s Day this weekend, so this is a really good opportunity to look at my thoughts, at my “emotional reality” surrounding mothers. Let’s try it:
- Recognition. I am feeling more than 50% negative emotions surrounding Mother’s Day. And I used to think that was ridiculous, when mom’s would complain that they hate Mother’s Day. But it has been really difficult for me the past couple years.
- Curiosity. What thought is at the center of my negative beliefs surrounding mothers? What does my brain think it is protecting me from?
- Meditation. She is/I am selfish and self-serving –> She is/I am imperfect –> She is/I am a human having a human experience, and that is to gain experience –> Nothing has gone wrong here, there is nothing to forgive –> She is/ I am 100% lovable just the way I am, she is/I am 100% worthy just the way I am
- Practice. Because this Sunday is Mother’s Day, my emotions are really turned up. They are screaming at me: Mothers should be better than this! The past two nights I have let it lead me down that path – I’ve let my monkey brain rule my thoughts and my emotions, unmanaged. But today, in my morning prayer, I felt the Lord inviting me to use my agency to manage my brain, to choose my thoughts and my emotions, to use this hyper-emotional weekend to my advantage – to better understand my thoughts, my fears, and the reality that I am believing.
We will look at this a little more tomorrow with Brooke Castillo. Good work today. That took a lot of thoughtwork today. I am grateful to myself for doing this work – over and over agian.