This morning when Bloody Good Chap reached out to put his half asleep arm around me, I half-asleeply mumbled to him:
“BGC, I’ve woken up feeling full of dread.”
He didn’t respond for 30 seconds. Eventually he opened one eye to ask “What kind of dread?”
I wasn’t sure exactly. All I knew is that there was lurking background dread – the kind of dread I’ve written about here once before – I previously labelled it
As he stretched his way out of bed I continued, “I just wanted to tell you. I wake up feeling like this quite often. Usually I just observe the sensations of dread in my chest for a while, and then they sometimes fade away and I can get on with my day.”
“Really?” BGC looked at me quizzically as he stretched his way out of bed.
“I thought you must always wake up thinking “I can’t wait for toooo-daaaaaaay”
(He sung this while doing a little musical-esque outstretching of his arms and a curtsey).
We laughed and laughed. And as we laughed, Neville got sidetracked with a plan to turn our conversation into a blog post.
By the time I’d made my dread announcement to BGC, I’d already been observing it for a few minutes.
There was a bit of a tightness in my chest, like a fist gripping something in there. Subtle enough that I almost couldn’t feel it. But grippy enough that Neville tried to getting a running head start on his morning “what’s wrong with my life” scan.
Neville could find nothing glaringly wrong with life at the moment so he started to concoct various possibilities.
He eventually distracted himself by wandering to thoughts of my past self. I realised with a little stomach-sink that if I hadn’t learnt to tame my mind and observe this little mini morning dread monster that visits me out of the blue sometimes, I’m almost certain that I would have spent the last decade continuing to dig myself into a very, very dark pessimism hole.
I smiled a small smile as I realised how unattached and unbothered I was by the mild, grippy dread feeling.
Instead of spiraling into analysis and pessimism, I held my attention in the sensations in my chest until the grippy fist in there seemed to ease off a bit, which was just long enough to stop Neville from whipping up a mood storm.
I realise that it’s easy to look at someone who seems pretty positive and resilient and assume that they must wake up feeling ace at all times, and never have any negative emotions. Which is why it’s my mission to debunk those mad myths with radical honesty.
I always thought that happiness = a utopian life where there are only positive emotions and thoughts, and zero shitty emotions and thoughts. As it turns out,
living a bloody good life involves plenty of random dread, panic, fear, shame, sadness, anger, and all the other niggly emotions that life chucks at us.
Which is why I’m so passionate about sharing the mind taming tools that have helped me out of the perpetual panicky-dread-pessimism zone and into a life of enjoyment, ease and resilience.
The only difference between a bloody good life and a bit of a shitty life is HOW WE RESPOND to difficult emotions and thoughts when they pay us a visit.
How are you responding?