Author Topic: Self-Regulating Strategies  (Read 1254 times)

Offline moSh

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Self-Regulating Strategies
« on: July 07, 2019, 02:08:17 am »
Hi all

I was wondering if anyone could offer up some mental strategies they use when feeling low, depressed, anxious, overwhelmed, lost, numb, etc. - I'm trying to put together a repository of them to help myself and others when the mood strikes. Mine are usually based in Buddhist thought, psychological findings, or a mix of the two.

For example, having recently heard Lisa Feldman Barrett speak of emotions as 'guesses' prompted by physiological sensations, I quite often catch myself thinking I'm feeling low when really I'm just tired or uncomfortable (which also links to the Buddhist idea of emotions not being inherently real in and of themselves). Another, more specific strategy I have, for when feeling overwhelmed or anxious, is to take a minute to watch myself as if on a movie screen. Helps loads to undo the undue significance of my problems.

You know how one day you'll overcome something, and think, "oh that's all I needed to think, I should think that way all the time", and then a few days later you've completely forgotten how to handle the same emotion? I'm looking to gather as many as possible and, at the very least write them down, but perhaps do something more with them in the future. I'd love to hear your thoughts, experiences and memories on what's helped you in the past - big or small!

Thanks!

Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: Self-Regulating Strategies
« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2019, 03:28:29 am »
The practice of generosity is often promoted as a way of making yourself feel better. The act of giving seems to be a fundamentally human activity which, scientifically, generates serotonin and other feel-good chemicals, and which has been essential to our evolutionary strategy of becoming a successful species. It doesn't have to be money or things, but can be giving our time to help others, or even wishing others well during meditations such as the metta bhavana.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Offline moSh

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Re: Self-Regulating Strategies
« Reply #2 on: July 07, 2019, 07:28:35 am »
Thanks, that's precisely the kind of thing I'm after (though can't believe I didn't think of it myself)! I remember when I first heard the psychological perspective, being that when we give we are consciously thinking about all that we have, all that we can spare. Whereas when we take, we're fixated on what we don't have. Stuck with me ever since.

Offline MarasAndBuddhas

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Re: Self-Regulating Strategies
« Reply #3 on: July 07, 2019, 08:59:50 am »
This is actually something I struggle with a lot, I often find myself doing things like comfort eating, smoking ciggs, or drinking.

The purpose of meditation, I believe, is to better be able to "view yourself like on a movie screen", or more literally, just become more mindful of yourself, to be able to take the back seat before doing things that you know aren't going to help you very much.

Like this morning, i started puffing my vape juice because I thought that I was getting screwed out of something I bought on the internet, so part of what I do when i need to get something done during the day is I smoke because it keeps me focused. However, I later resolved the issue, and then I lost the desire to smoke. I've had a lot of moments like this ever since i started a consistent meditation practice. You just start to realize what you're doing and you choose a better option.

I think it might be worthwhile to add "talk to someone else about how you are feeling" to that list. This has helped me survive my troublesome life over the years, people on suicide hotlines are helpful as long as you phrase it like "this feeling is making me want to kill myself".

 :anjali:

Offline stevie

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Re: Self-Regulating Strategies
« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2019, 04:23:41 am »
Hi all

I was wondering if anyone could offer up some mental strategies they use when feeling low, depressed, anxious, overwhelmed, lost, numb, etc. - I'm trying to put together a repository of them to help myself and others when the mood strikes. Mine are usually based in Buddhist thought, psychological findings, or a mix of the two.

Dear moSh,

from my perspective meditating on the four immeasurables is often a good idea ...


... I quite often catch myself thinking I'm feeling low when really I'm just tired or uncomfortable (which also links to the Buddhist idea of emotions not being inherently real in and of themselves). Another, more specific strategy I have, for when feeling overwhelmed or anxious, is to take a minute to watch myself as if on a movie screen. Helps loads to undo the undue significance of my problems.
... at other times taking a nap, a cup of coffee or emptiness meditation may even be better.


You know how one day you'll overcome something, and think, "oh that's all I needed to think, I should think that way all the time", and then a few days later you've completely forgotten how to handle the same emotion?
And finally mindfulness should be a standard tool, so that insights about symptoms and remedies don't get lost.

 <3 :dharma:

Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: Self-Regulating Strategies
« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2019, 06:06:00 am »

I think it might be worthwhile to add "talk to someone else about how you are feeling" to that list. This has helped me survive my troublesome life over the years, people on suicide hotlines are helpful as long as you phrase it like "this feeling is making me want to kill myself".

 :anjali:

I was lucky enough to be part of a discussion group at the Buddhist centre I went to for many years. It was a men's discussion group for mitras, so we were mostly at the same 'level', although there were ordained people too. Over the years we developed the confidence to talk about anything troubling us. I mention 'men' because I often think many women have this ability built in and don't understand why many men don't. Like all things the group came to an end, and I still miss it after five or six years.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Offline MarasAndBuddhas

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Re: Self-Regulating Strategies
« Reply #6 on: July 09, 2019, 01:32:44 pm »

I think it might be worthwhile to add "talk to someone else about how you are feeling" to that list. This has helped me survive my troublesome life over the years, people on suicide hotlines are helpful as long as you phrase it like "this feeling is making me want to kill myself".

 :anjali:

I was lucky enough to be part of a discussion group at the Buddhist centre I went to for many years. It was a men's discussion group for mitras, so we were mostly at the same 'level', although there were ordained people too. Over the years we developed the confidence to talk about anything troubling us. I mention 'men' because I often think many women have this ability built in and don't understand why many men don't. Like all things the group came to an end, and I still miss it after five or six years.

We're going into gender discussion, which is a little dangerous i guess, but also part of the issue with "being a man" is that people generally expect you not to show vulnerability, which is something i stuggled with a lot when i was a kid. I think all people have a built in desire to talk about things that trouble them, but for economic reasons nobody wants you to dwell on it. Work and money are such a big part of the modern landscape that it tends to muddy all the other conversation topics. I hope that overtime people learn to be compassionate towards each other, and learn how to better phrase the wisdom of mindfulness so that everyone can benefit. I actually got interested in buddhism because of a mindfulness therapist, but wow, that's so expensive.

Offline moSh

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Re: Self-Regulating Strategies
« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2019, 11:02:14 pm »
All good stuff, thanks all! In particular, are there any cognitive methods you have? What I mean by this is I suppose in line with cognitive behavioural therapy -- where there is a conscious 'talking to' oneself, having a productive effect on negative thought processes.

For this repository to work for as many others as possible, I'd like there to be a mix of approaches - meditation being one of them, but not many people will be all that experienced with the four immeasurables! That said, I think I'd phrase some to include ideas of immeasurable compassion, for example, without people needing to have encountered the concept before.

I think the reluctance we have to talk about something is extremely relevant, particularly for men, but I have really enjoyed the amount of attention it's been paid in recent years. At least in the UK, it's been a huge point of discussion, and there are advertising campaigns everywhere. It'll take a while, but I think we're moving in a good direction. Emotion is also becoming 'trendy' in younger generations, in a sense; just look at mumble/emo rap!

Nevertheless, it's something I do find myself resisting, telling people about my problems. I don't feel it's a masculine thing though, in my case, but more of an arrogance of 'if I can't help myself out with this issue, no one else will be able to'! I realise it's more about getting it out of your own head, but I feel in most cases my acceptance of a given situation tends to be strong enough...

Offline MarasAndBuddhas

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Re: Self-Regulating Strategies
« Reply #8 on: July 10, 2019, 06:13:38 am »
Quote
Nevertheless, it's something I do find myself resisting, telling people about my problems. I don't feel it's a masculine thing though, in my case, but more of an arrogance of 'if I can't help myself out with this issue, no one else will be able to'! I realise it's more about getting it out of your own head, but I feel in most cases my acceptance of a given situation tends to be strong enough...

that's also a big part of it, i also at times just prefer not to burden other people with my shitty feelings. You're also right that culture changes pretty rapidly and people now adays may be more "emo" than they were 20 years ago.

I also am going to recommend something I'm going to try to doing more often: you can get books on therapy methods and try them on yourself in a journal, because there's a lot of stuff i want to sort through, and not enough money and other people in my life for them to do it for me. The most important thing is just not to judge yourself for the problems that you have, and not to lash out on other people about how bad you feel or the fact that they may be contributing to your problems. I find that anger is a very self destructive habit, which is another thing I've discovered through buddhism.

Offline Chaz

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Re: Self-Regulating Strategies
« Reply #9 on: July 10, 2019, 05:02:49 pm »
Quote
Nevertheless, it's something I do find myself resisting, telling people about my problems. I don't feel it's a masculine thing though, in my case, but more of an arrogance of 'if I can't help myself out with this issue, no one else will be able to'! I realise it's more about getting it out of your own head, but I feel in most cases my acceptance of a given situation tends to be strong enough...

that's also a big part of it, i also at times just prefer not to burden other people with my shitty feelings. You're also right that culture changes pretty rapidly and people now adays may be more "emo" than they were 20 years ago.

I also am going to recommend something I'm going to try to doing more often: you can get books on therapy methods and try them on yourself in a journal, because there's a lot of stuff i want to sort through, and not enough money and other people in my life for them to do it for me. The most important thing is just not to judge yourself for the problems that you have, and not to lash out on other people about how bad you feel or the fact that they may be contributing to your problems. I find that anger is a very self destructive habit, which is another thing I've discovered through buddhism.

I'm a bit leary of using Buddhism as a self-help regimine.  Buddhism isn't about making us better people or feel better about things.  It's about the cessation of suffering.  If the cessation of suffering makes us better people or feel better about stuff, that's fine, but it's a by-product, not the intended purpose. 

You can use Buddhist teachings or practices for self-help if you want - nothing wrong with that.  But that isn't necessarily Buddhism.  If meditation makes you feel calmer it's the meditation, not Buddhism.

I would not discourage anyone from doing what anyone suggests here.  I just think we should be clear.

my $.02

Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: Self-Regulating Strategies
« Reply #10 on: July 11, 2019, 03:19:47 am »

I'm a bit leary of using Buddhism as a self-help regimine.  Buddhism isn't about making us better people or feel better about things.  It's about the cessation of suffering.  If the cessation of suffering makes us better people or feel better about stuff, that's fine, but it's a by-product, not the intended purpose. 

You can use Buddhist teachings or practices for self-help if you want - nothing wrong with that.  But that isn't necessarily Buddhism.  If meditation makes you feel calmer it's the meditation, not Buddhism.

I would not discourage anyone from doing what anyone suggests here.  I just think we should be clear.

my $.02

Yes, it can be a big mistake to use Buddhism for other purposes. As you say, there are element which could help people, usually involving relaxation techniques, but the time to take up Buddhism is when things are going well for you.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Offline MarasAndBuddhas

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Re: Self-Regulating Strategies
« Reply #11 on: July 11, 2019, 04:35:51 pm »
Quote
I'm a bit leary of using Buddhism as a self-help regimine.  Buddhism isn't about making us better people or feel better about things.  It's about the cessation of suffering.  If the cessation of suffering makes us better people or feel better about stuff, that's fine, but it's a by-product, not the intended purpose.

I don't believe I said this directly. I personally don't see the "cessation of suffering" as being terribly different from "feel better about things" though. My idea about doing a self-induced therapy program was just a momentary thought. One of the things that really bothers me about journaling is that there's just too much stuff to write down, and most of it doesn't really matter. But, if the OP tries it and has different results, then that's really okay. Having a journal is a doesn't seem like a horribly risky idea to me, or even reading self-help books...

Offline moSh

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Re: Self-Regulating Strategies
« Reply #12 on: July 15, 2019, 08:17:14 am »

I'm a bit leary of using Buddhism as a self-help regimine.  Buddhism isn't about making us better people or feel better about things.  It's about the cessation of suffering.  If the cessation of suffering makes us better people or feel better about stuff, that's fine, but it's a by-product, not the intended purpose. 

You can use Buddhist teachings or practices for self-help if you want - nothing wrong with that.  But that isn't necessarily Buddhism.  If meditation makes you feel calmer it's the meditation, not Buddhism.

I would not discourage anyone from doing what anyone suggests here.  I just think we should be clear.

my $.02

Yes I deliberately avoided mentioning meditation and Buddhism specifically, as I was more looking for mental strategies more generally. That said, I'm very much after specific cognitive appraisals and the like, which can be utilised as short-term relievers of negative thoughts.

The growing reductionist correlation of meditation = happiness frustrates me quite often, as more and more I hear people say 'I tried it but it wasn't for me' - and I imagine this is from them not feeling significantly 'happier' like they were expecting. For me Buddhism and meditation is about seeing truth, and I've definitely become more prone to being unhappy because of a greater awareness. On the other hand, I'm far better at dealing with unhappiness when it comes! And thankfully the later outweighs the former :D


Anyway, I'm grateful for the suggestions. The one you mention, ITA, about not judging yourself for the problems you have, is a good one. Things like this that we can easily remind ourselves (if we remember them) can be like a great mental first aid kit: maybe not treating the bigger issue at play, but accessible and quick to alleviate a great deal of the suffering.

Offline MarasAndBuddhas

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Re: Self-Regulating Strategies
« Reply #13 on: July 15, 2019, 09:05:57 am »
Quote

That said, I'm very much after specific cognitive appraisals and the like, which can be utilised as short-term relievers of negative thoughts.


those can certainly be aids to meditating, i believe the goal in the end is to try to just see things the way they are without are minds making an alterations to it, and relieving ourselves from the suffering causes by discursive thinking (thinking for its own sake). It's as if enlightenment is such a difficult task, that we need not grasp at it directly. Rather, we set aside a time and place for meditation each day day, and live our lives with humility and watchfulness of our desires, thoughts, and feelings...easier said than done for sure!

 


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