Think back to a time when you were really hungry and you ignored it. After a certain point, you would have been so hungry, that you would have eaten anything to satisfy your hunger. It could be anything, a plate of doughnuts, chocolate cake or even a packet if chips. If you were starving, you would scarf it down, even if you were on a diet. Why did that happen? Because, you reached your tipping point.
Think back to a time when someone made you really angry, and you decided to let it go. It happened again, and you let it go again. But, one day you exploded and said things which made you unhappy. It would have been easier had you just brought it up the first time and tried to resolve it. Once, again you reached your tipping point.
What’s the tipping point? In every aspect of our lives, we have a tipping point. And, it’s important to identify that tipping point so that we know what our limits are.
When you force yourself to go beyond the tipping point, your body gives up on you. After that, it makes decisions which may not be in your favor. Go for a long time without food, and your body will give up its willpower and reward you by filling your body with junk food. Stay quiet for a long time and tolerate things which disturb your mental state, and your body will give up the restraint and let the emotions out. It’s similar to attaching a very heavy weight to the end of a rope. If you go beyond the limits, the rope will tear. Everyone and everything has a limit, and if you cross it, things go wrong.
Figuring out your tipping point is key to maintaining a healthy emotional state.
Imagine going to an office which you hate. You tolerate it day after day. But, over time your work suffers and one day you might lose it and get into an altercation with co-workers. Or, even worse. You stay quiet at work, but the frustration spills over in other aspects of your life. You family and friends bear the brunt of it. You stay in office till late everyday. But, one day you lose it and walk out and risk losing everything you had worked hard for. It would have been much easier to just set expectations and go home early once in a while, so that you could have sustained this longer.
Tipping points are especially important, when you’re trying to change habits. When you embark on a diet, you need to know how long your body can survive without food. If you’re going to starve yourself, your body won’t be able to sustain it. If you know your tipping point, you’ll be prepared for it, and you’ll eat something well in advance. Same goes for when you’re training for a marathon. Your body needs breaks in between. If you don’t give it breaks, your body won’t be able to get you through the marathon. There’s a difference between testing your limits and pushing it. Yes, testing it helps you build your endurance. But, pushing it unfairly, makes you lose the game.
How do you identify your tipping point? Chances are, you already know your tipping point. You know how long you can go without screaming at someone. You know how long you’ll tolerate someone.
You know how your body reacts to less sleep. You know how your body reacts to rigorous routines. The important thing is keeping your limits in mind. Over time, this should become a habit so that you know when you should react or take action.
Here are a few simple steps to get you started:
1. Think of your personal relationships: Think about anything that is bothering you. If it’s a one-time thing, let it go. If it’s something which keeps happening, maybe it’s time to talk to that person. For e.g. you might feel bothered by your spouse being on the phone continuously. It’s better to bring that up now rather than to get into a huge fight later.
2. Think of what makes you unhappy: Think of things which make you unhappy every once in a while, but you tend to ignore. This could be the traffic or something in your workplace. If you keep locking it away, it doesn’t go away. Address it and see if you can reduce the unhappiness it causes you. These things have a way of instigating outbursts.
3. Think of your habits: Is there something which you keep doing, which you wish you didn’t. Do you come home everyday and eat chocolates? Do you then get frustrated and give yourself a tough time. Change your actions rather than getting stuck in this vicious cycle.
4. Be aware of your feelings: Most of the time, we tend to avoid what’s bothering us. This unfortunately leads to outbursts when triggered. It’s good to stay in touch with your feelings either through journals or even through conversations with people close to you.
5. Love yourself: If you love yourself, you won’t allow your body to constantly be pushed over the limits. Think of how you treat things you love. Remember, how you keep your favorite book. Or, how you maintain that card from a loved one. Well, treat yourself the same!