You get a little hands-on in a bar and someone punches you in the face. Your mind wanders while engaged in your morning routine and you accidentally iron your hand. You throw caution to the wind regarding your Halloween stash and all of a sudden you have an intense throbbing in your lower bicuspid.
Physical pain. The body’s warning system that something is wrong and changes need to be made in order to make things right: Apologize to the burly bar man…or fight back, if you’re into that kind of thing. Pull your hand from under that iron. Go to the dentist and hope the damage is reversible.
And then there’s emotional pain, which works pretty much the same way…
Your significant other breaks up with you: sadness. Your d-bag co-worker decides to spread various distasteful rumors about you behind your back: anger. You think you’re home alone until you hear something that sounds an awful lot like footsteps one floor up: fear.
Contrary to popular human behavior, emotional pain isn’t something to wallow in. That’d be the physical pain equivalent of waking up covered in hungry fire ants and just…sitting there, taking it. Emotional pain is occurs so that you no, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that changes need to be made: Sometimes things don’t work out, so define who you are and what you want alone. Confront your co-worker and work to dispel the nasty rumors. Get the heck out of your house and call the cops…or go upstairs and check it out, if you’re into that kind of thing.
No matter what, pain, whether physical or emotional, is meant to be a signal to you to bring it to a swift and secure close. Physical pain, left to continue, generally leads to death. So…that’s bad. Emotional pain, on the other hand, if let to carry on and on, leads you to something nearly as life-ending as the ol’ Grim Reaper’s work himself: a rut.
Ruts, in their most common form, are the result of allowing something in the sadness family (hopelessness, depression, loneliness) to persist. The feeling acts as a weight that gets ever heavier until all forward momentum is at a halt and all desire to act is all but squashed out.
Ruts based in the fear or anger families (terror, anxiety, contempt, disgust) are function a tad differently. In drug terms (emotions ARE chemical reactions in our heads, after all), sadness is a depressant and anger and fear are stimulants. Therefore, whereas the sadness rut de-energizes a person and takes away their will to act, fear and anger ride on waves of adrenaline that pumps you with negative energy which consumes all other abilities to envision and interact with the world. You see all things through fear- or anger- colored lenses. If let to take over, anger and fear lead to ruts better known as “rage” and “paranoia” respectively.
“Bu -but Trystin? Paranoid people can be super active?” This is true, quote. This is true. But what is a rut really? It’s not a matter of being active or not. The guy in the sad rut is TECHNICALLY being active as he sits on his couch, clicking through, channels, shoving ladle-fuls of ice cream into his mouth while crying over happier times. Ruts, my friends, are not defined by a person’s inability to take action, but instead of their inability to be productive, to grow as an individual. This is why, while the rage-fueled rutter might concoct all sorts of maniacal ways to destroy the world or the paranoia-fueled rutter might have turned their house into a mighty fortress to keep out the aliens when they land, this behavior is isolationist, self-destructive, stunting and warping all other aspects of their lives, and therefore the very definition of counter-productive. A very accomplished and active set of ruts indeed, but ruts nonetheless.
Now that we’ve ID’d it, let’s see what we’re dealing with here; pull back the ol’ mask and see how to get to the bottom of this. Aaand…AHHHH!!! It’s…it’s….oh. Anti-climactic. While ruts might seem like these impossibly debilitating and life-sucking forces of nature, at the end of the day, they are nothing more than a clump of very stubborn emotions…painful emotions…and, just like sadness, fear, and anger in their lesser forms, ruts are NOTHING more than your body telling you that you need to take action. To change. If you’re the guy crying on his couch, turn off the TV and write a list of what’s RIGHT in your life. If you’re the person all locked up in your house, fearing the alien uprising, take a single step out of your barracks. These are little things, but these are the ways to move on, move forward; to beat the rut; to take life back and make it your own instead of being the whipping boy of your own insecurities. Act in defiance of your negative emotions every time and every time you will come out stronger and ruts and moments of perceived failure won’t even be an option. Rut: OWNED.
And it would’ve gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for this meddling blog…
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