What’s REALLY Bugging You?

You may have noticed (at least I hope you did) that I’ve been out of communication for awhile. The New Year brought some unique challenges. Just when I think I’ve mastered how to attract only those things I want in life, I realize there is more to learn.

My hard drive crashed. I can handle a variety of intense problems. I did, after all, adopt teenagers when I was single. I’ll tell you, though anything mechanical tends to send me off the deep end because I cannot fix it myself. (Can you spell “control freak?”)

Somewhere in the midst of anger, frustration and tears, it dawned on me that my emotional reaction to this problem had very little to do with my computer. It was about another situation that had me feeling out of control; one I didn’t want to face.

Has that ever happened to you? Over the years, I’ve observed that when we react all out of proportion to the problem at hand, there is usually something else we need to deal with but are avoiding. I once attended a workshop where they called this situation “false cause.” We think X is bothering us but it’s really masking Y.

Once I squarely faced the truth and took action, I immediately felt relieved. Notice I didn’t say, “I immediately felt terrific.” One of the mistakes we often make in this self-help world is to think we can move from deeply upset to dancing with joy in 0.3 seconds. It doesn’t work that way. Whenever you find yourself in an emotional state you want to improve, the best course of action is to do whatever it takes to feel relief.

I used to joke with my daughters, “When you move from wanting to kill yourself to wanting to kill them, you are making progress.” And that’s true. Depression feels helpless. Anger feels like you can and want to do something. Anger is a relief from depression. (Legal disclaimer: I am not encouraging you to kill anyone. I used to encourage my daughters to beat on their mattresses.)

The Law of Attraction says we attract more of what we focus on. When stuck in a negative emotion, we are spiraling downward. Reaching for thoughts that will produce a feeling of relief is the quickest way to reverse the spiral. The more relief you can cause, the faster you go up the spiral until you’re feeling good again.

Conversely, when you’re experiencing positive emotion, the quickest way to start spiraling downward is to focus on something that’s a little annoying. The more you focus on it, the more you attract negativity and pretty soon you’re one grumpy person.

What’s really bugging us are situations we are tolerating. We put up with things thinking we are powerless or not wanting to hurt people’s feelings. All the while they begin to wear on us like water on rock. It may be subtle but erosion is still happening. Then one day, your hard drive crashes and you need to call Suicide Prevention.

Your homework is to make a list of things you are tolerating and do something about them. I put together my own list and out of 12 items, nine of them had the following solution: communicate. I’ll bet your list has a similar ratio. Usually the majority of what’s really bugging us are hurts we are afraid to communicate that have slowly eroded our relationships. When we allow this to persist, we rob ourselves of the joy we could feel about that person if we simply cleared the air.

It takes courage to clean up what’s really bugging you. The more you do, however, the more you attract what feels good. It’s worth it, I promise.

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