ASK ABDI: HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS WITH NEGATIVE EMOTIONS?

QUESTION: I’ve hit the bottom again. I find myself back to the same point where I can’t wake up in the morning and live another day. I am exhausted and I hate my job - too much work; I can’t make it anymore; I thought that by meditating and doing yoga I would find a way to cope with everything, but I managed just to beat myself up trying to find time for everything - which led me to exhaustion. My immune system is going down and I am fed up with everything; I know only work-work-work, and have no satisfaction. A couple years ago I said to myself, I would not come back to the same job/same industry, but I haven’t managed to find something else; how do I change this work pattern? By going to something that I would love doing with all the risks involved (I could go to India for a yoga teacher training, but I am scared by the unknown when I come back - no place to stay, no money, no job, no savings, etc.), or by staying at my current job and take it as an opportunity to make friends with all the negative emotions that arise within me? How do I change this pattern?

ANSWER: Let’s start with the last sentence of your email: ”I have the feeling I always put myself in an abusive context”. Go deeper into this feeling. Where else in your life do you see this pattern surfacing? Dig deeper yet, below the exhaustion, the anger, and despair. How familiar is this feeling? How far back in your life can you trace it to? And deeper yet than familiarity, and despite the exhaustion, can you access any negative pleasure around this issue? Accessing these emotions will put you on the right track towards healing this comfort with wearing yourself down.

What you describe about using yoga and meditation as a coping mechanism is common to many of us. But these disciplines, as invigorating and life-sustaining as they can be, are not magic tricks nor were they designed to be. The limitation of the human body and spirit has to be honored.

Be gentle with yourself. The berating of one’s self, which we are all adept at (“A couple years ago I said to myself, I would not come back to the same job”), only fortifies our negative pleasure. Step back and examine your condition with no judgment. You are here, you have been here before, how do you do your best not to be here again? The either/or setup that you describe (staying where you are or going to India/making a living which is killing you or having no money, home, etc.) leaves out a massive amount of possibilities in the middle. It is also the mark of addictive thinking: yes/no. Where is the room for maybe? The middle road has to be examined and one does this by stepping back and allowing it to reveal itself to us. Your exhaustion is definitely coloring your judgment and you have to be aware of that, as well. You know things are not working and need to change. Be open to that and allow the next step to be revealed to you, while making sure that the old behavior patterns do not creep in. One step at a time, otherwise it will continue to be overwhelming.