Monday, 16 January 2012

Exercise some mind control

I am trying not to catastrophize. It's one of my new strategies. I don't like bursting into tears while on the tube or getting my bike out of the bikeroom. Also I don't think that encouraging unhealthy trains of thought will help me to feel better about the situation. I don't want to wear my neuronal pathways any deeper.

Trains are a good metaphor for me. I remember a conversation with Stan, my lifecoach from last year. I compared my anger to the feeling of being on a runaway train. We concocted a visualisation to help me slow down my feelings. Then I forgot to use it.

Here's an illustrative train of thought that escalates from sad to dead in about two seconds.
  • I feel sad
  • I will not be able to resolve my jealous feelings
  • Our relationship will end
  • Unable to look after myself, I will have to go and live with my mum. Or I will move to Novia Scotia and live a miserable life
  • Virgil survives and has a good life. Lots of younger women are eager to comfort him and take my place
  • Maybe he even goes on seeing Sarah, just because
  • A lonely, bleak middle age beckons
  • I wish I were dead except for how much that would hurt my mum
  • I am a total fucking failure
My friend Ava does the same thing. After encouraging her partner to bring home a date she spent a miserable night in the spare room, hating it. She saw herself breaking up, losing all her friends and never being invited to parties anymore. We talked about it the next day. I was amazed that Ava would encourage a sleepover while she was at home. I think she was feeling guilty about having more dating success than her partner, Marcus. I said, Well, you could just say, Sorry, I was mistaken. I am not ok about you bringing girls home while I'm here in future. There are no rules - just what works for you two.

Afterward Ava calls me the voice of reason but she's never heard me when I'm doing my own ranting and catastrophizing. Actually like most people these days Ava doesn't know me well at all. When I tell her about my temper she is surprised. I say, Well, I've never been angry with you so how would you know?

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