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Quick Meaning Repair

We’ve been chatting about emotional health as an ability that you can improve by instituting useful habits.

Last week we looked at the following important habit: the habit of identifying a challenge (like chronic sadness or chronic anxiety) and sitting yourself down and using your wisdom and your intuition to make recommendations to yourself about what you want to try to reduce that distress.

This week I want to introduce you to the following habit: the habit of quick meaning repair.

Every day we’re bombarded by small (and sometimes large) threats to our experience of life as meaningful. Maybe you’re a writer and get a particularly painful rejection. Suddenly writing (and life itself) may seem that much less meaningful. Or maybe you’ve invested meaning in your home business. Just as you’re about to launch your product or service you notice that someone has beaten you to the punch. You’re likely to experience that bit of bad luck as a blow to your sense of the meaningfulness of life.

The habit to acquire is the following one.

First, you recognize that something important has happened: you admit that a blow has occurred. Second, you feel the feeling: emotional health isn’t helped by denial. Third, you remind yourself that meaning, because it is a psychological experience, is a wellspring and a renewable resource and that you can make new meaning as soon as the pain subsides. Fourth, you actually make new meaning by taking appropriate action: by sending out your novel again or by actively marketing your product or service.

Our sense of the meaningfulness of life is regularly threatened. When a meaning crisis occurs we become emotionally unwell, usually calling the experience “depression.” Rarely do we recognize that a meaning event has just occurred and that, in order to feel better, we must take action by making new meaning. It is tremendously useful to acquire the following four-step habit: understand what’s happened; feel the feeling; pledge to make new meaning; and make some new meaning!

That’s the habit of quick meaning repair. Give it a try!

Read more posts by Eric Maisel, Ph.D., a JenningsWire blogger.