My excessive emotions really got the best of me this week. Please still by my friend, but I need to confess that I teared up during Grease: Live! Sunday night on Fox. I didn’t want to, but when the cast started hugging one another after the grand finale, I couldn’t help but feel so proud of them that I got misty-eyed. I know what it’s like to work incredibly hard on an exhilarating musical production, then to perform it for the entire world in a 2-3 hour adrenaline rush. Okay, so maybe I don’t know exactly what that feels like, but performing in my local regional theatre a few years ago kind of felt the same way. Almost.
If I can’t handle myself during the bows of a musical, just imagine what I’m like during a sad movie or an inspirational fireworks show.
At some point in your life– hopefully sooner than later– you should have a pretty good idea of how you’ll react to certain types of triggers. As you just read, I’m pretty aware that I will be a ball of tears if something is happy and inspiring, or if something is disappointing and sad. I think Kristen Bell said it best when she told Ellen DeGeneres that she needs to be between a 3-7 on the emotional scale, or else she’s crying. The scale goes from 1=very sad to 10=very happy. I completely agree. Though honestly, I might be more in the 3-6 range. I am extremely prone to happy-crying.
This self-awareness should expand beyond just happy and sad tears. Do you have horrible nightmares after scary movies? Does stalking pictures of your ex make you really mad? Does seeing people from high school induce anxiety? Take a good, hard look at yourself and recognize the unwanted emotions that will likely bubble to the surface during particular experiences. Now ask yourself if there’s anything you can do to avoid those types of episodes.
As regular readers know, I often bring up the fact that happiness is a choice. This little mantra applies to so many different topics, it’s astounding. In the case of understanding your natural reactionary tendencies, take some responsibility for your happiness by limiting your exposure to harmful triggers. There are enough emotional challenges thrown your way without your consent or control, so why willingly add to the pile?
Let me give you a personal example of something I could have avoided last week. Because the church in which I grew up really messed with my view of God and Christians (read more about that story HERE), I’ve learned that I shouldn’t expose myself to certain online posts by that organization– and even some of the members themselves. I am still Facebook friends with a handful of the church members, but I have to evaluate what I can handle in my newsfeed without provoking serious anxiety.
I recently scrolled past a recorded sermon by one of the church’s leaders, and clicked on it because he was a pretty good friend of mine back when I was a member. Given that I feel connected and comfortable with God these days, I figured I’d give it a listen and possibly learn something. Unfortunately, I’d forgotten how the cadence and tone of sermons in that church are very distinct, no matter who is preaching or the subject at hand, so I immediately felt tense and even sick to my stomach upon listening. I’m simply not capable of exposing myself to that environment without inducing an unhealthy level of fear, discomfort, and memories of a warped view of God. If I don’t want to feel those things, I need to avoid those types of posts. (I’m speaking from only my experience, not for everyone who has been/is currently in that church. Read the blog post I tagged in the paragraph above to get a better understanding.)
What is something you can control that you know draws out negative feelings? Perhaps it’s time to unfollow celebrities on social media who make you feel inadequate about your appearance. Maybe you should avoid the bars where your ex hangs out. Or if you’re me, don’t watch movies like Marley & Me or The Fault in Our Stars when you are already having a tough week. And don’t read articles about serial killers if you’re already afraid of the dark. Oh, and always keep a snack handy because hunger=hating the world.
Evaluate your emotional tendencies, and curb your behavior to make you less vulnerable to those unwanted feelings. Fascination, social pressures, and curiosity are just not worth it.
Happy-crying doesn’t really bring me down, but I definitely need to rein it in at times…if not for my own mental stability, then at least for the sake of people who wonder why I’m acting so deranged. I hope you can think of a few ways you’d benefit from adjusting your exposure, as well, in order to live a steadier, more peaceful life.