Tips For Fishing and Living # 9

Tip #9

A bad day’s fishing is better than a good day at work.” Anonymous

 Not every day is a feel-good day. If one were only to act based upon feelings little would ever get done, or ever accomplished. Not only that, but we’d be acting out ours feelings, which more than likely, would produce negative results. This is why we act based upon our values, and our thoughts, rather than our feelings. This doesn’t mean we need to truck along in gloom and dreariness. Also, there is, of course, plenty we can do to rectify “bad” feelings. At my present stage of life I have made a personal pact to “do more of what I enjoy doing, and less of what I don’t.” Sometimes this means I seek out a way to find some joy or fun within a task I probably would otherwise prefer to skip all together. An example is if I become backed up with a list of several phone calls I need to return. Normally I dislike this task very much, so I foolishly avoid making these call-backs. This, of course, only causes my list to mount up more. A solution, besides staying on top of the calls to begin with, is I can decide to get myself into our hot tub and start returning the calls from there. This usually does the trick for me. Soon this unpleasant task that I’ve been avoiding is a fun activity. Soon I find myself zipping through my “to-do” list of call-backs, and I even start looking for more calls to make, just because! Silly, but effective. Basically, I’ve succeeded in bringing a bit of fun into the mix. Not that everything in life is a lark, but by not taking myself, or life, so seriously can often go a long way to making real life more like a day of fishing.

Also, negative feelings can, in fact, be quite helpful. This is true only if we use them as the important information they provide us with. Each of us has two inner guidance systems:  1. Our Feeling Guidance System, and, 2. Our Thinking Guidance System. The feeling guidance system is designed primarily to inform us. It lets us know what we are experiencing at any given moment. It can tell us if we are angry, or afraid, or bored, or any hosts of feelings. Sometimes we misuse this system by, either ignoring these feelings by stifling the feelings with stoic and robotic behaviors. We “tough it out.” In other words, we over-ride the Feeling System. The other way we misuse this system is by overwhelming ourselves with these feelings. We thus become flooded with negative or daunting emotionality that acts as a debilitating – often paralyzing – force. The result is we keep ourselves from taking appropriate action or actions. Also, coming from this overwhelmed state, the actions we do take when we are flooded with such feelings usually are not the right kind. For instance, we may stay in bed, or over eat, or drink too much, etc., and ultimately not take the very steps that would result in us having better, more positive feelings.

 A much better way is to do a both-and approach by using both guidance systems in conjunction with each other. First, we allow ourselves to acknowledge whatever feeling we are experiencing – negative or positive – feelings. Then we use our thinking guidance system to figure what would be an appropriate response to take. We might require a viable solution. Feelings are best when they move us into action. We call these kinds of feelings Primary Feelings. If, however, the feelings keep us stuck, and we keep dwelling on them or recycling them over and over, we call these Secondary Feelings. It is like saying “I’m sad that I’m sad that I’m sad…” So we first need to notice the present feelings, and then we ask what would be useful to do in order to move beyond them. Some inner reflection can serve us well to come up with what might be a best course of action. It may or may not prove correct. But we are now in action and can address this next step. In light of this new knowledge, what now would be best? And so on. By doing so we are moving past the stuckness. Maybe it is time for a cup of tea, some journalling, or a run or brisk walk, or a heart-to-heart conversation with a dear friend. Maybe we start asking, “what would work best right now?” Or “Is there another way to look at this situation?” Or even, “what might be good about this current situation?” “What would help?” “Is this the best time for me to do something?” “Can I do just one thing now, and come back later with a possible next step?”

 These are only a few questions one might choose to ponder. Whenever we make use of both of these inner guidance systems and see them as a partnership that we can readily enter, we ultimately do much better. This both-and approach is what sets us humans apart from reptiles and allows us to use our mammalian brains.

Maybe we just need to go on a “fishing trip”.