This big truth is a BIG danger for those of us who look elsewhere to escape pain, anxiety, depression, loneliness, and grief.
In 20 minutes~ you could go to a club and get some attention
In 20 minutes~ you could score on a corner or call your plug
In 20 minutes~ most people have access to alcohol
In 20 minutes~ you can call that guy from the office that is always flirting with you, even though you are married
In 20 minutes~ think of all the things you can eat
In 20 minutes~ you could shame someone on social media for vindication
In 20 minutes~ you could pull a Carrie Underwood and pull out that Louisville Slugger and do damage to a car.
In 20 minutes I don’t have to feel this way… but what happens next(!) : guilt, shame, remorse, embarrassment, ruined families, set backs of goals, lost jobs, isolation, depression, anxiety and regret.
However, that is not what goes through your mind when–
your mother dies,
the promotion falls through,
a family member is in an accident,
someone breaks your heart,
someone breaks your trust,
someone you love must go to a psych hospital,
the car broke down and you are broke as well……the list could go on and on. Add some to it. I know you have your reasons why in 20 minutes you might not want to feel some feelings.
I met a man recently who literally had just been released from jail and found his way to our church by way of recommendation of one of our homeless community members. He was in jail as a direct result of using a substance to numb his feelings of pain. This happened in November. Back in January, he hadn’t touched anything stronger than Advil for the past 8 years. But a painful anniversary came around. Then something tragic with his dad. He was depressed and struggling when a friend said he had something that would perk him up a little “just to get him through the night shift”. That started a 10-month struggle once the guilt kicked in. Then more use to numb the fact he’d made a huge mistake. And the cycle was set in motion. Uncomfortable pain–> bad choices–> escape–> relief–> possibly more poor choices–> regret & shame –>the need to forget what just happened and/or the “who gives a care now” attitude.
What’s the alternative?
There are people who throw themselves into work
There are people who binge watch Netflix
There are people who exercise a couple hours a day
There are people who re-organize their whole house
There are people who start new projects….
The thing is – this is still getting away from the negative emotions but in a healthier, non-destructive way (if responsibilities are still tended to). All of us have episodes when we wish we did not have to feel uncomfortable or painful emotions. That is just part of life. There is no getting out of it. There is no “one size fits all” solution to negative emotions~ especially strong ones. There are things that can help you navigate tough times:
- Give it to God, do your best part then allow time to do its part until your next step.
- Build a supportive friend network when times are good. Learn to share good(& slightly off) days with them. Be available for them in distress and know who you can turn to when times are hard for you as well.
- Run choices & decisions by someone trusted. And be willing to accept, that since this person should not be emotionally involved, they can better see clearly the best overall options for you.
- Seek help wherever you can find it. Notice I said “help” not “escape” and not “pity”. Who has knowledge and/or resources to assist you in navigating you journey at this point?
We have to face our hurdles, obstacles, sinkholes even. We need to accept and feel our emotions. They will pass. Maybe not in 20 minutes; yet, life will go on. Our job is to not make life worse while we experience disappointments.
Feel your feelings
Accept the facts as they are
Give it to God and ask for strength, wisdom, mercy and grace
When calm look at options for your next step
When you get to the waiting point – turn to something productive, peaceful, and positive to take your mind off the pain.
When temptation comes to escape within 20 minutes tell someone you trust. Let them help you make better choices or be with you on the phone until the urge passes.
Know that this too will pass.
With God you are strong enough! You two have got this!
Until next time,