Listen to Part 1 of this series here.
Hi, welcome to part 2 of a series on how to crush negative emotions without using food, cigarettes or alcohol and I’ve been on every bender conceivable. And what I noticed was then when I was pigging out on one of those things, or sometimes all of them, I actually started to resemble a pig. I looked bloated, well I already had these little eyes, I just looked piggish.
So I was on a date last weekend and I asked my date, “how do you handle negative emotions without using food, cigarettes, or alcohol? And she said, “I don’t. I kinda just let them bottle up inside me until they all burst out at once.” That’s probably the worst response, I could kind of imagine her having a meltdown or suddenly exploding in public. For example, I was working at a newspaper in Hong Kong where I was denying to myself how bad the company culture wise, everybody was treating everybody else like crap, everybody was sabotaging and throwing each other under the bus, my colleagues were resigning every month. It was very tense until one day a junior reporter sent out an email to all the management about an issue that could have easily been sent to just one person, and in defence of that person I chastised the junior reporter in public, but I lost my control and I realise now it was bad judgement to publicly scold someone. I kinda wish I had practised these skills more before joining such a negative work culture, and if you happen to join a company with bad culture, here are some other things you can do to release steam before it shows.
When you stop taking substances to deal with negative emotions, you’ll be surprised at first by the intensity of the feelings that you have once you reduce or stop taking the substance, but just remember that your feelings have been exaggerated because they’ve been dulled for so long, will eventually go away. Your feelings, just like the high you get from the substances, are almost equally short lived. Most negative emotions are short, they come and go. It may be that you don’t need to “do anything” in response to a feeling, other than just notice that you are feeling it and wait it out. Activities like meditation and yoga can help you develop the skill of observing and sitting with a feeling.
So that’s what I did when I was going through a down patch in my life I was searching for something new that could help replace my old ways of partying. One of my friends in the startup community in Singapore suggested that I check out this meditation retreat called vipassana, it’s quite a well-known meditation retreat that is non-religious, and it’s taken by a lot of entrepreneurs. Very quickly I’ll explain what involved, it’s 10 nights where you’re disconnected from the outside world, you don’t have any access to technology, you don’t have access to talking to anyone, you take a vow of silence and you just sit with your thoughts. There’s no indoctrination, this no teaching you about any religious beliefs or values, it’s just trying to teach you how to meditate. Meditation at its core is really just about trying to appreciate your breath, firstly the sensation of breathing and secondly just trying to remove any other thoughts that might invade your mind. By reducing your thoughts to the purity of focusing on your breath, you can an amazing amount of clarity. Now I use it as a daily exercise and I find that I’m more energetic and more hmm, I don’t need to rely on cigarettes or alcohol like I used to.
Cleaning the bathroom. You can be so rough with the grout and really get that anger out. Plus, a perfectly cleaned, streak-free mirror is a thing of pure joy. Stress cleaning is so beneficial! You might have a ton of work that’s been waiting for you, and you’ve been procrastinating, and it’s all due tomorrow, but you will have the cleanest apartment or house ever. Think about it.
Or you can try weightlifting. It is hard to think about anything else when you’re trying not to get crushed by the bar. Then it feels good when you don’t get crushed. Then you get all those endorphins when you’re done. I’ve always struggled with dealing with failure and weightlifting has helped so much. You don’t know you truly hit a max until you fail multiple times at a higher weight. Failing has become kind of important for me because of it. When I hit a new max, but try to increase and can’t hit the next weight, I’m okay with it because I know if I keep working, those failures won’t be failures for long. Once i have a heavy ass weight on my back, I don’t have time to think about anything else in the world.
Or if you’re feeling anxious, try running cold water from the sink over your hands, for some reason if I am losing control of my anger it helps to calm me. Dunking your face in cold water can bring your heart rate down, lessening the effect of an anxiety attack. I’ve used it many times!
If you have a free weekend, alone time in nature seems to help me a lot. Or try reading a book in a quiet, cool area. How do you handle negative emotions without using food, cigarettes, or alcohol?
Worst comes to worst, do what I do, scream during your commute to work. Just the whole way, screaming from the time you leave your front door to the time you arrive at the office. Just scream into the void. I bet you’ll feel like you’ve emptied out any negativity by then.
As you go through the process, remember that continuing to avoid substance use will help you get a handle on your feelings, likes, dislikes, wants and needs. If you keep returning to a substance in response to a feeling, you are likely delaying the learning process since the substance will only help you manage your feelings in the short-term. Get the support you need and trust that you can learn to manage your feelings in healthy ways that are sustainable over the long haul. And what you learn from your feelings might surprise you and help you make better choices in your life.
So put down the shot glass, put out the cigarette, and slowly put down the chicken drumstick. Try a healthier alternative instead.
If you enjoyed listening to this podcast episode, the biggest favour that you can do for me is to share it with your friends, family, or colleagues. Ask them to check out the podcast called Ramen To Riches.
Music Attribution (CC/Royalty Free)
Watch this space… (ft. Doxent) by robwalkerpoet (c) copyright 2014 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license. http-//dig.ccmixter.org/files/robwalkerpoet/46866 Ft- Doxent
Forgotten Land by Doxent Zsigmond (c) copyright 2014 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license. http-//dig.ccmixter.org/files/doxent/45486 Ft- Gurdonark, Joanne Gabriel
Unknown Things by Robbero (c) copyright 2016 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license. http-//dig.ccmixter.org/files/Robbero/53070
“STAY IN THE GREAT” by BOCrew