Author’s note: I apologize for using a profane word in this entry. It is quoted from another blog and is used to make a point with a very popular slang phrase that many people use these days to describe not caring about something.
I just read a blog that was titled “The Elegant Art of Not Giving a Shit”. In the article, the author made some excellent points about not letting petty, obsessive thoughts upset your day. He spoke about how crazed and offended we become over the slightest infraction that someone commits, our minds running wild with “angry or indignant words in your head, often in the form of a clever comeback or an internal sermon about respect and decency.” The author then states that this is useless behavior and that we waste a lot of time in our heads chastising the one(s) responsible and because we cannot let it go, we tell the story over and over again to anyone who will listen. He then suggests that instead of indulging in these petty, obsessive thoughts, we just move on and not “give a shit.”
It was an interesting article and he is correct. To a point.
Perhaps he is master of his emotions and can magically turn thoughts off and on, but most of us are not. Perhaps he is only speaking about that chance encounter when someone bumps into you or forgets to thank you for holding the door. We have all been “wronged” at some point in life and have been consumed with utter annoyance, sometimes even outrage, and proceed to obsessively concoct all sorts of physical and emotional revenge on the person we see as responsible. Does that sound familiar?
Thoughts are harmless, aren’t they? Well…no, not really. Anyone that believes that is really misguided. Thoughts are actually very powerful. They have the ability to lift you up or slam you down. They can make or break your day. They can be motivational, inspirational or they can be hurtful or aggravating and everything else in between.
Of course, not all thoughts have the power to sink you into the abyss of mental/emotional distress. Studies have shown that the average person has over 65,000 thoughts a day and most are useless, repetitive or of little consequence (although most of the thoughts are negative or judgmental but that is a different topic altogether). Most thoughts fly in and fly right out with little if any attention paid to them. Those thoughts are mostly in the observational category like “that mailbox is red” or “traffic is heavy today”. Those thoughts do nothing but provide neutral information to the brain. In fact, in many cases, a thought is just a thought – until it hits an emotion.
How can you tell? Oh you will know! Thoughts that stick around and get caught up in our mind, tumbling around over and over like a clothes dryer are the troublesome ones. The thought comes in, hits a sticky substance and it is unable to be dismissed. When a thought hangs around like that, it is a clear sign that it has triggered an emotion. Instead of just observing what took place without feeling, the mind rant begins. This is usually based on a past hurt or trauma. It snags your thinking, looping you thoughts around and around. The end result is an angry tirade or a journey into revenge-plotting with all logical thinking at a standstill. Depending on the emotion that was elicited, you could even dissolve into tears or depression. You are in mental distress, and either feel fully justified or confused by your feelings. When this occurs, it is impossible to do as the author says. You cannot just let it go and move on. You absolutely “give a shit” because you have outrage and indignation fueling your thoughts or you are reduced to a blubbering mess because it hurts so much.
The thing is, you are so busy feeling justified in your reaction that you never bother to look behind the feeling. “It is a one-time thing,” you claim. I have a right to be angry, annoyed, hurt, etc. Is it a one-time thing? Or is it a pattern of behavior? If for example, you get upset every time you are challenged to defend yourself – do you go off the rails? Do you find that impatient people throw you over the edge? Does incompetence irritate you beyond measure? Do angry people frighten you? Are you upset by loud, brash personalities or aggravated by insecure, quiet people who don’t speak up for themselves? Do you become enraged when you are “picked on” or are put in the spotlight? I could go on and on with these kind of questions but I think you get the point. You may be able to justify the ONE time it happens but is there a pattern?
Here is a personal story so I can illustrate further:
A while back, my husband and I were driving in the countryside enjoying the day. We passed a house that had a nice looking drafting table at the curb with a sign that said “FREE”. My husband wanted to know if I wanted it since I was in the market for a table for my crafting projects. It looked to be in great condition so I said yes and felt really excited at this bonus added onto a great day. With great anticipation I watched him get out of the car, open the trunk and lift the table. Then I heard him say “I’m sorry, Deb. It won’t fit in the car.” That’s when I felt my heart drop and tears come to my eyes. I became so upset. But over what? A table that I never expected to find or truly needed? Why was I upset? Why did I want to say “It’s not fair?” And why did I want to hit something? It made no sense!
You could throw any number of theories at why I reacted this way but most of them would not be correct. My upset was not truly about the table, but it was triggered by the table – or I should say, the disappointment of having my expectations crushed. As a trained energy therapist, I knew this was triggering some past event that had a huge emotional charge to it. You see, all I do most of the time every day, is to look within. I do it for myself and I do it for my clients to get to the root of why we do what we do. It is my passion and it is fascinating to see how many “bruises” we carry from our past that can evoke strong responses.
Most of you in that same situation would have said “So what, the table doesn’t fit” and moved on, just like the author recommended. But I could not. It would have been impossible to take his advice and “not give a shit”. Strong emotions, when present and in the forefront, do not allow you that luxury! The tears were there and I indulged. I felt like I got kicked in the gut and thrown to the curb. Crazy, I know! Over a table, no less! But the feelings were there. So what to do?
The answer was relatively simple: Look within to find the root of the issue. So even in the midst of upset, I asked myself an important question – “Even though this disappointment over the table makes no sense, when was the first time you can remember being THIS disappointed?” The answer popped out so fast it was surprising.
When I was 14 I had a wonderful weekend planned with a large group of kids from our local Church. We were going to put on the show “Godspell” for the parish and in preparation, had tickets to see it off-Broadway one weekend. A sleep-over for 10 of us was planned for the night before at a friend’s house. It was so exciting and I could not wait for the day to arrive! Well, the day did come. I was packed and ready to go! About an hour before it was time to leave, my father found something to pick a fight about (as he always did) and grounded me from going to the sleepover. I can still see him, standing in the kitchen, eyes bulging, screaming at me that I was not going. I remember feeling like I got knocked over, all the breath leaving me. His words hit me harder than any fist ever could.
Devastated, I ran to my room, sobbing and screaming about how it wasn’t fair. I exhausted myself with the crying and after an hour of that just laid on my bed like a rag doll, depressed and exhausted. Then I heard my father coming up the stairs. He came to my door and opened it, saying, “Well, you are going to be late, aren’t you going?” I remember just staring at him in disbelief unable to comprehend what he was saying and what it all meant. I was just grounded, wasn’t I? Boom! Another blow… another shock to my system. How cruel to put me through all of that emotional distress just to dangle it back in my face and act like nothing happened. What was the point? By that time, though, I felt dead inside and I actually refused to go. I was so emotionally spent, face swollen from crying that I didn’t even have the desire to be around anyone and although I did bounce back the next day to go to the show (as kids do), in the 40 years since that happened, I have never forgotten what he did. I just had not realized that the entire experience was embedded in my emotional body like a land mine just waiting to be triggered.
There are pages I could write and I could speak for hours on what happens to us when we suffer strong emotional events like that. Suffice it to say, it causes, for lack of a better term, – a bruise. It is not physical, of course. It is energetic and we carry that energetic emotional “bruising” forever until it is healed. We may push it deep, deep down but it always shows itself when something activates it. The old hurt resurfaces, the emotions trigger and you relive the original pain all over again but without the conscious memory of the original event.
So when that lovely little table did not fit into the car and my hopes were dashed, that bruise was activated. It was not really about the table. It was about that time my father took something away unfairly. It was about my hopes climbing high and crashing to the ground. It was the devastation of the disappointment.
So what do you do with that information? Tell yourself it was 40 years ago and it does not matter? Tell yourself to “not give a shit” If only it were that simple.
We experience many traumas in life. There are “capital T” traumas like death, rape, murder, serious car accidents, etc. and “small t” traumas like being embarrassed by something or hearing hurtful words directed at you. There is no age to experience this and it happens without fail to all of us. I have had clients traumatized in the womb by mothers who did not want them and clients traumatized by being screamed at for spilling milk at the tender age of 3. Clients who can’t deliver presentations because they were embarrassed in class by the teacher and clients who cannot hold onto money because they would rather throw it away before it is taken away. All based on “traumas” they experienced and forgot about. The mind covered up the details but left the emotion so it could be relived, unknowingly, again and again, creating an emotional pitfall. The basic level explanation of this is that when strong emotional events take place it creates an energetic short in your brain. Since the brain seeks to protect you at all cost, it takes the event and buries it, only to resurrect the related emotion when a trigger occurs.
There are lots of ways to deal with these events in our lives. “Not giving a shit” would not be one of them. You can push it down and away – for a while. Then it comes back again and again. You could spend years talking about it in traditional talk therapy. But the best way I have found to permanently handle these triggers is Energy Therapies. They are quick (in most cases) and to the point. There are plenty to choose from. In my practice I utilize Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), Tapas Acupressure Techniques (TAT) and Matrix Reimprinting to relieve the trauma that was experienced – no matter what happened, no matter how old you are/were and with little to no expressed emotion (meaning you do not have to relive the original event). When the issues are resolved, it is like a huge weight has been lifted and the bruise is healed, the emotional land mine diffused. Permanent relief is found. In fact, the more times you can uncover and work through all of those “traumas” in life, the more personal peace you will find.”
So in this case, I did what I do for others for myself. In doing the work, I actually found another issue that was related to the “it’s not fair” thought that came up around the table. I always experience outrage when something is not fair and I have had this feeling as long as I can remember. Using the energy techniques, I remembered a moment in time from 8th grade. There was a regional spelling bee and the last two people on the stage were some kid from another school and my best friend, Nancy. I don’t remember the word they were asked to spell but I remember the boy got it wrong, then Nancy got it wrong and then it was the boy’s turn again. I recall that something made me turn around, and I saw a lady mouthing the spelling of the word to the kid. He repeated what she said and won. I remember being SO outraged that she helped him to cheat and he won. I told my parents and wanted to go to the judges. My parents told me to mind my own business though and we left. I was hopping mad!!! I remember going home and writing in my diary that I was going to be a lawyer so I could right injustices like this one.
Wow! What a memory! That was a surprise but it made so much sense. I have always had a “it’s not fair” attitude I have carried all these years triggered by various events. Who knew the issue had its roots all the way back to my early teens. Amazing.
Since that work, (which took about an one hour – not days or weeks of endless talking about my feelings, although there is a time and a place for talk therapy) I have not been triggered by “it’s not fair” or any disappointment issue. No more pain. No more bruise. Believe me, I have tested it forward and backwards!
The important point here is that we all carry these wounds. Some are just moments of “bad” memories that do not affect your life, but some are “drop-you-in- your-tracks-and-pay-attention-to-me” points of pain. Those are the moments that you have to “give a shit” about. Those are the ones that keep you from true emotional health and freedom.
So if you have never heard about this type of emotional work, now you have. The next time you are engaging in endless raging about a minor injustice or are bitching about whatever was said or done to you, look at yourself first. Don’t just make a random excuse or a justification or blame the other person. You got triggered! You would not have had a reaction if it did not touch a bruise. This is about YOU. Think about where it came from. Can you identify another time or even, if possible, the very FIRST time, you felt like this? You may just be amazed at what you uncover! And when you do the emotional energetic work you too can learn to truly “not give a shit.” If this resonates with any of you, do yourself a favor and investigate these techniques. You would be amazed at how beneficial they are in getting you to finally do as the author of that article recommended. You will actually find yourself able to, as Elsa from Frozen would say, “Let it go…. Let it go…