I was talking with a client on Sunday and he was struggling with “overcoming” his anxiety and depression. As I was describing it, I had this thought and shared it with him:
Imagine you need to run to the store to grab milk, and along the way you see a bear in the field. You’re in your car, and the bear is in the field, just doing what bears do. I said, if you see a bear in a field you don't stop your car, get out, and start throwing rocks at it… you just let it be a bear in the field, admire it for a minute, and head down the road to the store.
I said if you're running to the store to grab milk and you see a bear in the field, and your purpose was to go to the store and grab milk, but you throw rocks at the bear in the field, you're going to have a bear fight on your hands.
...and you're going to forget to get the milk. So you need to just let the bear be a bear in the field and go get the milk anyway.
I said emotions kind of work like the bear in the field. If you just let them be, and allow them to be present without throwing rocks at them, acknowledge they are present, and get your tasks done, they'll just eventually go away on their own. That’s how emotions work. They are chemical signals that show up, do their thing, and leave…unless we prod and poke at them.
When someone says they want to “overcome” an emotion, the emotion almost always wins because an emotion can be bigger and stronger than us. If we will just let it be, and do our thing, the energy of that emotion will weaken, and life will go on.
In essence, don’t throw rocks at the bear, especially when you are in your car and you have a task to complete, and there really is no need to stop. Just keep going.
So if you are thinking of overcoming an emotion…DON’T!! Let it be and re-engage with your task.