In my last post I wrote about my “emotional glitch”; how random, emotionally non-provocative events cause me to feel inappropriately sad. I’ve been trying to find a way to reprogram this.
I’m still not entirely sure why this happens, other than being especially sensitive to emotional triggers and having a higher emotional baseline than others (both common traits in borderline personality disorder), and continually reinforcing the negative neural networks in my brain (how bad habits are formed).
So, I think the key is to a) interrupt the negative neural networking and build positive circuitry; and b) work on bringing down my emotional baseline (so I’m not so reactive).
I’ve found all this information from multiple sources, and am attempting to cobble together a solution, so please bear with me 🙂
In order to do the first part, I need to first be aware that it is actually happening, and then find a way to directly intervene in the process. So, it comes back to mindfulness; noticing what I am feeling, naming it and separating from it. This may also clue me in a bit to what else I am feeling; usually, when it happens, all i know is that I feel sad for no good reason, and therefore don’t know how to fix it. If I really pay attention, I will probably realise that I don’t just feel sad; there are most likely multiple other emotions that have arisen, such as loneliness disappointment, etc. I will then name and acknowledge each emotion in turn.
The next step in intervening in the process is to do something unexpected, that will bring your mood up, thus breaking the negative network and building a new, positive one. Something small should work, such as doing a short, funny dance (Elaine from Seinfeld’s “little kicks” could work), or voicing your negative feelings in a goofy voice. It is a good idea to have several techniques prepared in advance, so that I always have one that is appropriate depending on where I am or the situation I am in.
The point here is to not make the feeling go away, but to not give in to the feeling. By constantly giving in, the network is reinforced. By bypassing it, it will eventually be weakened to the point where it is no longer a problem. So, it’s important to realise that it will take time, and to keep trying.
I’ve been procrastinating on this post a bit, because something doesn’t feel right. I think what it is, is that because my feelings are most likely based on habit rather than something causing genuine sadness, I’m not sure if acknowledging them is the right thing to do. I’m worried this will make the negative connections stronger. Perhaps it’s ok to acknowledge them, and then place them aside. I just won’t get involved and follow them down the rabbit hole…
One thing I’ve realised through all this is that I don’t actually have mood swings; all of my emotional shifts are based on triggers, albeit triggers so random that I don’t always notice them. This does cheer me a bit, because it makes me feel less broken, and more just a person with bad habits to break.
The next step is to work on adjusting my overall baseline emotion. I’m having a bit of trouble finding information on this, so I will leave it for my next post.