“The Worst-Case Scenario Video Game Show” is a real thing. On the title it says..
-Survive when lost in the desert
-Escape from a Sinking Car
-Perform a Tracheotomy
-Fend off a Shark
-Identify a Bomb
Which got me thinking.
While at first glance that list may seem a bit extreme, it’s not far from the daily life of a woman who was blessed with lots of emotions (i.e. myself).
If you find yourself thinking worst-case scenario constantly, feel a case of the grumps coming on, or it’s just a Monday, here is my work-in-progress-still-figuring-it-out survival guide for how to deal with your emotions…
How to Identify Fact vs. Feeling
You probably laughed when you read that heading because you think I’m majorly unqualified to speak on such matters. And you’re mostly right. While I’m not an expert at sifting through my feelings and anchoring myself to facts, I am aware that it needs to happen. Sure, no one can tell you how you feel and you have a right to your feelings, but it is absolutely critical to find the facts. To take a moment, assess the situation, and decide if your anger, anxiety, excitement or any other range of emotion is because something is real and logical, or if it’s perceived.
Like seeing an oasis in a desert, our emotions can create mirages that aren’t real. They feel real, to be sure. But it helps to have friends or older, wiser people in our lives to talk to when we’re not sure if what we’re seeing and feeling is actually there or not. Identification is key.
How to Fend off Unwanted Emotions
A case of the grumps. I get these every so often. Sometimes for very legit reasons, and sometimes for no reason at all. I can get stuck in a spiral of self-doubt and pity where every glass I see is dumped out. Regardless of how I got here, I know I don’t want to stay here.
Depending on how long I’ve spiraled down usually determines how long it takes to get back up. Maybe it’s reciting the things I’m thankful for, even if they end up as sarcastic as “I guess I’m thankful it’s just raining and not hailing.” It feels cheesy to say what you’re thankful for out loud, but it’s actually really helpful. Especially if you’re in the kind of mood that doesn’t want to acknowledge all the good you’ve got. Maybe your sarcastic negativity when you try to list things off will end up funny and cheer you up. Or at least help you realize how ridiculous you sound. Works for me every time.
And it’s more than the power of positive thinking; it’s also walking in the awareness that thing’s aren’t as bad as they seem, and they will get better. Sometimes it’s doing things before you feel them and waiting for your feelings to catch up. Like forgiveness when you’re still hurt, or choosing joy when you’re sad. If you set yourself in the right direction, your feelings will follow.
We’re skipping tracheotomy parallels because…gross.
How to Escape Worst-Case Scenario Thinking
Give me a situation, and I can tell you the worst-case scenario. It’s the way my brain works…I over think just about everything and things can do downhill fast. My husband is late getting home from work? He’s probably in a horrible car accident. My friend hasn’t called me in two days? She’s probably mad at me, or decided she doesn’t want to be friends anymore. I hear a noise in my car? It’s probably the engine and they’ll have to replace the tires and I might as well just buy a whole new car. And I don’t say those things to be insensitive of real and terrible situations, I say them because I actually think them. All. The. Time. It’s a problem.
Believing the “no news is good news” saying is much easier than it sounds. Because it means we have to think and assume the best in a situation until we hear otherwise. We have to believe the best in our friends and in our circumstances. We have to trust in a God who is good and has good things for us, despite trials and challenging times. And it also means we have to try as hard as we can not to let things snowball into something much bigger. To stop thinking we’re Bad Luck Betty’s who are the recipients of all the terrible things in the world.
The more we invest in our relationships, our jobs, in building into our community and the world around us, the more we have to trust it. Trust that our relationships can weather a few storms, that we can believe the best about our people and they can believe the best about us. Trust that we can more than just make ends meet, but that we can thrive right where we are. And trust that danger isn’t lurking around every corner.
How to Survive when lost in an Emotional Wilderness
The worst way to journey through any wilderness is alone. The Lord, in His great mercies, knew that I would be a crazy person, so He has blessed me with some really wonderful friends. Good, truth-telling, grounded, positive, encouraging friends. And let me tell you, those kind of friends are crucial. The kind who will call you out, but with grace and kindness. The kind who will help you walk when you cannot see a way out. The kind who will just sit with you. And I pray you find this kind of friend in God, because He makes a wonderful wilderness companion.
Deep breathing. Assessing the facts. Speaking truth to yourself. And sometimes just sitting in the darkness is okay, knowing that this wilderness will not last forever. A season of quiet. A season of less. A season of mourning. All these seasons will happen, so learning how to navigate through them, survive them, and even learn from them with most of your sanity intact is a part of life (especially life as an emotional woman. Three cheers for estrogen!).
And I promise you, friend, a season of joy and of life will follow a season in the wilderness. It might take awhile, but it will. And it will be wonderful.