Treat emotions like mental weather
“See thoughts and emotions as mental weather, as things that happen to us and with which we can co-exist in peace.”
Oliver Burkeman, The Antidote: Happiness for people who can’t stand positive thinking
Our natural tendency is to hold on tight to good emotions and try to escape from the not so good ones. When we’re happy and content we bask in the sunshine. When we’re sad and upset we run to find shelter from the downpour.
If you can observe your mental weather, maybe even name it – look there goes frustration, here comes anticipation - we can create a distance for ourselves from these emotions. Think sitting in an armchair next to the window seeing the storm pass by in front of you. Emotions are meant to be felt but they don’t have to be engaged with.
You know the disappointment you feel when you fluff the dressage test you’ve been practising for weeks or when you fall off and you really shouldn’t have done. Observe it, name it, ask if it has anything useful to tell you and then let it move on.
“Feelings just are. If we accept their arising and subsiding as part of life rather than reacting to them as if they were deeply meaningful we’d be better off”
Norman Vincent Peale, The Tough Minded Optimist
As always, these things are easier said than done!