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Feeling down?

2 minute read

Insight

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Are you familiar with Pavlovian conditioning? If not, please open a new tab, read about it, and then come back.

OK! Now that you’re a bit more familiar with the idea, let me tell you that we humans are not very different when it comes to conditioning. The point I’m trying to make here is that if you feel down or unhappy, it’s most likely not for the reasons you believe.

As for Pavlovian conditioning, let's say you get a strong emotion of burnout or unhappiness. Your brain will be looking for the cause of it, so whatever you’re doing at the time will soon be associated with this feeling. So, for example, let's say that while you’re working, your significant other does something that makes you feel resentful or frustrated. Your brain can easily associate work with this feeling rather than attributing it to the actual cause.

If this feeling goes on, you may believe that you should change jobs, so you do. The first few weeks are fantastic because it’s all new and makes you temper your feeling toward your significant other. Then slowly, the same feelings return, and you get confused.

We already wrote about asking yourself multiple why questions, and in this case, this would be extremely useful.

Why #1: “Why am I feeling so unhappy?” - “Because my work pisses me off.”
Why #2: “Why is my work pissing me off?” - “Because any time I try to focus on it, he/she comes to interrupt me.”
Why #3: “Why does he/she interrupt me?” - “Because he/she doesn’t care about me.”
Why #4: “Why does he/she not care about me?” - “Because our relationship is not going well.”

Ah!

You can simply sit for ten minutes and do this exercise, and you will get lots of significant information you wouldn’t otherwise notice. The answers you’ll get will be painful but necessary.

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