Feel it (don’t fight it)

One of my favorite albums is Sam Cooke’s One Night Stand! Live At The Harlem Square from 1963.  His voice is so richly beautiful, and the live context showcases his energy & musicality.

Now I know his song “Feel It (Don’t Fight it)” is about love – of music, of dancing, of experiencing the two together. But when the lyric “Don’t fight the feeling” plays on repeat in my head, I can’t help but think of one thing:  anxiety.

Bear with me.

When I feel anxious, telling myself “Don’t fight the feeling” is one of the best pieces of advice I could give.  I’ve found that when I FIGHT the anxiety (which I always do; heck I did it several days this week!), the anxiety gets worse.

If I can remind myself to just FEEL it, to sit with it, to breathe through it, I am calmer and the episode seems to pass more quickly.  Now this takes patience, and the will to do something that could feel opposed to your natural instinct!

Check out the song, and maybe one day you will find “Don’t fight the feeling” playing on repeat in your head, just when you need it.

Insight into post-Communist Russia

Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man’s Fight for Justice, by Bill Browder

This book was hard to put down, for sure. Bill Browder gives fascinating insight into the crime & injustice of post-Communist Russia and is a hero for becoming a human rights activist. Below are just a few quotes from the book that give insight to the state of Russia after the fall of Communism. I hope these pique your interest, as I highly recommend this book!

Seventy years of communism had destroyed the work ethic of an entire nation. Millions of Russians had been sent to the gulags for showing the slightest hint of personal initiative. The Soviets severely penalized independent thinkers, so the natural self-preservation reaction was to do as little as possible and hope that nobody would notice you. This had been fed into the psyches of ordinary Russians from the moment they were on their mothers’ breasts.

Instead of 150 million Russians sharing the spoils of mass privatization, Russia wound up with twenty-two oligarchs owning 39 percent of the economy and everyone else living in poverty.

…by the year 2000 the richest person had become 250,000 times richer than the poorest person. This wealth disparity was created in such a short period of time that it poisoned the psychology of the nation. People were so angry that they were ready to spill their guts to anyone who wanted to talk about it.

Going after information in Russia was like hurtling down the rabbit hole. Ask a question, get a riddle. Track a lead, hit a wall. Nothing was self-evident or clear. After seventy years of KGB-instilled paranoia, Russians were careful to guard their information. Even inquiring after a person’s health could feel like asking someone to reveal a state secret, and I knew that asking about the condition of a company would prove exponentially more difficult.

Also, I love details on spy techniques. Browder describes meeting an informant while wired. When listening to the playback, “we heard a burst of white noise that drowned out everything.” They estimate they were in the presence of some kind of high-pitched jamming equipment. Truth is stranger than fiction.

His final thought on the dangers of becoming a human rights activist, and therefore an enemy of Putin:

But what I’ve discovered about fear is that no matter how scared I am at any particular moment, the feeling doesn’t last. After a time it subsides. As anyone who lives in a war zone or who has a dangerous job will tell you, your body doesn’t have the capacity to feel fear for an extended period. The more incidents you encounter, the more inured you become to them.

There’s a monster in my head!

Inc said it perfectly in their recent article How to Tame the Negative Talk in Your Mind:

It’s one of the most destructive forces you’ll ever have to face, and it’s inside your own head.

You might not realize it, but you’re “talking” to yourself all day long.  And for most of us, a lot of it is negative.  One thing I’ve learned is that the brain is obsessive – you feed it one thing, it wants more of it.  Negative thoughts can compound upon each other, sending you into a stinky state of being in no time.

Here are a couple of my favorite points:

1. Listen to what you’re telling yourself as if you were telling it to other people.

In response to my negative talk, a therapist once asked me, “Imagine you are talking to a younger version of yourself – you as a child. Would you say all those things? Or would you be more understanding, more patient, positive?”

7. Distract yourself to reboot your mind.  Stop thinking and start doing.

This can work. If you can remove yourself from the current situation and take a step forward! That first step is the hardest part, but worth it. Put the Nike swish in front of you if you have to and Just Do It!