We all instinctively understand the phrase “don’t yuck on my yum”. Urban Dictionary defines it as “do not say that my food tastes bad,” however we can take the expression further by looking into our life’s experiences.
Sometimes, people may put a damper on our own good feelings, either directly or indirectly. And then there are those times that we may also, either knowingly or not, deflate someone else’s joy. But by taking responsibility for our own inner state of being, we can protect ourselves from these “yucks”, and also make sure that we aren’t out in the world “yucking” on anyone else’s “yum”, either.
Are there mornings when you wake up and you just feel wonderful? You may have had an amazing time with your partner the night before, or had a particularly delicious experience with your children, or the day is just glorious, or just because? Then:
- You walk into the office, the grocery store, or ...
- You get stuck in traffic.
- At the office a co-worker is bitching and moaning about the boss.
- At the grocery store a customer is yelling at the cashier.
- In traffic, someone cuts off the person in front of you and gives them the finger.
Even though the negativity is not being directed towards us directly, it may be challenging to not be affected by it and for us to hold on to our “yum”. In our fast-paced world, there are so many potentially stressful situations and negativity that we are exposed to that it takes real effort and consciousness to stay connected to our “yum”.
Then there are those experiences in our life that are directed towards us specifically. Perhaps our partner had a bad day at work and takes it out on us, or the neighbor is grumpy and criticizes us for allowing our dog to be on their lawn, or the boss is unsupportive of our ideas that day, etc. So even though we’re in a great place ourselves, these things come up and directly impact us.
Protecting Our Yum
The first step is recognizing what is happening. As soon as we can begin to notice (and this is the hardest part) that we are being pulled out of our “yum”, we can start to evaluate our thoughts and where we are emotionally. We can learn how to disconnect from that other energy and find where we are inside. It might help to tell ourselves: This is their stuff, not mine.
The biggest trick, though, is to be present throughout the irritation or interaction. For instance, once we start to notice some “yuck”, do a couple of deep breaths, and really catch yourself feeling something other than joy.
As soon as we notice that we have been pulled out or are being pulled out of that awesome space, then we quickly bring the attention back to ourselves. If we can just allow all of our emotions to simply be experienced without attaching ourselves to any of them, then we will be way ahead of the game.
Practice noticing each emotion (annoyance, anger, sadness, loneliness) as it comes up within the conversation or annoyance, and then bring yourself back to the space behind the emotion.
The Zen Buddhists call this “watching the watcher”, but it doesn’t have to be some deep or profound spiritual concept – it can just be an easy and practical awareness. Just notice the emotion or thought, and then allow it to leave it if wants to.
Not Messing Up Someone Else’s Yum
We also have to be sure to hold the space for someone else’s excitement and joy, regardless of whatever our own views are. If we do notice any negative or uncomfortable reactions to someone else’s “yum”, then we need to practice keeping that negativity to ourselves.
With very close friends, partners, or family, maybe we can have a discussion and agreement around not “yucking” on each other’s “yum”. A new way of being could be developed, so that each person can appreciate the other’s unique views and experiences.
To do this, we do the same exercises as those for protecting ourselves: simply being very aware of our judgments and our own emotions, and allowing them to pass us by.
By just listening to what our friend or partner is saying, without allowing our own emotions to rule our words, we can start be happy for another’s happiness.
The Problem Is The Gift?
All of these “problems” can help us to understand a deeper truth, one that the great spiritual teachers have spoken of in every age: that each of these problems is a chance for us to master ourselves, and to be in a space of joy, regardless of what is going on in the outside world.
Whether someone chooses to enjoy what we do or not, or whether the person in front of us cuts us off, whether our boss is grumpy, or our kids don’t want to talk to us, we can learn to calibrate our joy based on our own inner life instead of the outside world.
Once we’ve mastered that trick, there is no problem out there that can yuck on our yum!
Help With The Yum
If you feel as if you can’t get into a space of yum, even for short periods, or if you struggle with the strong emotions or a cluttered mind, it may be a good time to speak to a professional therapist.
At Nassau Guidance and Counseling, all of our licensed and experienced psychotherapists have worked with many people who struggle with negative thoughts and uncomfortable feelings, and help them to experience more joy and more “yum” in our clients’ everyday lives. We look forward to speaking with you!
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