Beware of the Rabbit Hole

Updated: Mar 7

Life is happening all around us and naturally we are drawn to certain activities, events and conversations that take place during the day. As much as possible, I try to focus on the positive. I have learned through years of experience that the more time you spend in that space the more you will connect with joy, peace and love. I get a swift reminder that dwelling on negativity leads to what I call “THE RABBIT HOLE.”

Two days ago, I was there – staring into the dark, suffocating hole of negativity and angst. I was in the midst of a text communication about a challenge and suddenly what seemed like one isolated challenge magically transformed into a series of negative realizations. The more I typed my feelings of frustration, the more I issues I found that upset me. Fortunately, a loved one on the other side of this conversation redirected me. She saw that I was venturing into the rabbit hole and she quickly grabbed my shirt tale before I tumbled in.

This was a best-case scenario. It is much better to catch yourself before you fall in. Once inside the rabbit hole, there are more nasty surprises laying in wait. Oftentimes, they are self-fulfilling prophesies eager to turn your negative thoughts into challenging realities. Rabbit holes can be specific to a particular fear or frustration or they can be general places of challenge.

For example, you could wake up in the morning with a slight tickle in your throat and immediately begin to imagine you have a major illness. You spend the day doing internet research on this tickle that now has an accompanying headache. The headache could actually be from the stress of worry, but there’s no way to know once you are in the rabbit hole and completely determined that you are sick. Depending on how vivid your imagination is, this tickle could feel deadly.

An example of the general rabbit hole experience is when you feel frustrated with one situation then unrelated negative incidents show up in your day. Your brow seems permanently furrowed. Everyone is horrible. The world is against you and you’re hungry (aka “hangry”). People sometimes tumble into this rabbit hole and never reemerge. They go on for a full lifetime hating sunny days because it’s too hot and hating cloudy days because it’s too dark. Nothing is right and sadly they never get that while we can’t always change circumstances, we have complete control over how we feel about them.

If you’re reading this and you have a tickle in your throat or you’re keyed up about a co-worker who agitated you, here are some tips to avoid falling into the rabbit hole or if you’re already in, how you can climb out.

  • Find something funny to laugh at immediately! The internet has your back. There’s an abundance of pet videos, kid videos and if you’re into it prank videos to give you some giggles. Try to direct yourself toward humor that is positive as it helps expedite the process of moving away from negativity.

  • Remind yourself that whatever it is – it’s not the end of the world. Even if you imagine it might be the end of the world, there’s no way to stop it, so let go.

  • Take a nap or meditate. This is such an awesome way to reset if the opportunity is available. A nap for me is like unplugging a gaming system then plugging it back in after you’ve experienced some system malfunction. Somehow, someway, the system knows it was out of order and corrects itself when it’s not plugged in.

  • Contact an accountability buddy. Reach out to someone who is positive and drama-averse who will kindly call you out for your craziness and help you get back on track. DO NOT under any circumstances try to get this support from someone who is keyed up about their own life chaos or who is prone to gossip. That type of associate will pull you further into the hole!

  • Do something fun. Knit if you knit. Run if you run. Make delicious pastries if that tickles your fancy. It doesn’t really matter what as long as it’s positive and freeing. I have a Hello Kitty coloring book on deck for emergency situations.

Remember above all, life is supposed to be fun and fulfilling. We are each in charge of making that happen with whatever we have available. Play close attention to your thoughts and feelings and in the moment, you recognize you are stumbling dangerously close to the rabbit hole, use your tools to move in the opposite direction.

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