Most adults experience mood changes over a period of time. On some days you are very lively and happy and on others you struggle to get through the day. The source of the problem also varies from person to person.
I remember that when I was in college, some of my close friends started to discuss about the biggest source of sadness in our lives. While some of us talked about the death of relatives, lack of a caring household etc., there was also someone who thought that they are very sad because they could not get ‘distinction’ in certain subjects. I will protect the person’s privacy by referring to her/him as ‘them’. This person came from a well-to-do family and was unlikely to have been affected by how they did in an exam. To me dealing with the death of a close relative or a parent is a bigger challenge than getting poor marks in a paper. But, I guess to that person, the inability to score as well as they would have liked to must have genuinely caused a lot of pain.
Human beings whether rich or poor often experience the same amount of emotional grief from very different events. I remember once I read about a Hollywood moviemaker who committed suicide because ‘they’ could not cope with the death of ‘their’ mother. I was quite young at the time and wondered why might a wealthy and successful person take this step. I am much older now and hopefully a little more familiar with the realities of life. Anyway, this post is not about why people experience extreme grief/negative thoughts but how we can overcome these.
In my own experience, the following have helped me a lot:
1. Regular physical exercise. I am not talking about sweating out in the gym. It is great if you can manage that but even 20 minutes of gentle yoga before you go to bed or any time of the day that suits you might help to keep the negative thought in control.
2. Regular meditation and chanting also builds a protective divine barrier around you.
3. Maintain a journal where you write about why you love life. I would suggest writing on your ‘good’ days and referring to these notes on ‘bad’ days. Identify a mantra or a purpose on your ‘good’ days that is your purpose for living, something that makes all other challenges insignificant. Every person has at least one such goal. If you hated everything in your life, then why waste it and be reborn again. Why not channelize your energies on the path of spirituality and moksha?
4. Always have a set of caring friends to hang around with. They do not have to be in your age-group, gender or nationality. It is very important to have someone outside of your family as well with who we can share problems that are giving us constant stress and anxiety. Often YOU HAVE TO TAKE ACTION to get rid of the source of the stress. This might not be easy or simple. For example, getting out of a toxic relationship. With the help of friends and family, you will get enough confidence to take on the challenge.
5. This one perhaps applies to only those who have not yet had the blessing of meeting Swami ji or be accepted as his shishya. If you have already found your Guru, then all days will be ‘good’ days. For people like myself, who have not got the opportunity to meet Swami ji, I would suggest that you read posts on os.me, and view inspirational YouTube videos. Recently, I heard Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji saying that “You are bigger than the challenges that you face.” But, I would not have appreciated the significance of this statement had I not been reading or listening to stories of other people who have overcome huge obstacles in their lives.
Like many other people, I feel that life has given me a much bigger share of grief and burden than most people around me. 🙂 But, I have also noticed my markedly different perception about life on the good and the not-so-good days. What techniques have helped you the most to overcome negative thoughts?