“Drag your thoughts away
from your troubles…
by the ears, by the heels,
or any other way you can manage it.”
― Mark Twain
I am a chronic worrier. I worry about everything. I fret about the big stuff such as money, career and relationship problems, much like everyone else, but I also worry about stupid things like what a certain person thinks about me, or what I’ve said the night before when in the mischievous grasp of a bottle of gin. I get this sinking feeling in my stomach, like when you think you’ve lost something important or remembered a cripplingly embarrassing incident, and I can’t shake it for days on end, sometimes even weeks. Its debilitating and the only thing that occupies my brain, often affecting my mood. The issue goes round and round like a zoetrope. I’ll even admit that I’ve made myself ill from anxieties that I’ve let become too big. Its terrifying and makes the world seem insular and full of shadows. Sometimes I can be made to see sense by talking the issue over with a friend – especially if its something with an easy solution – but occasionally the worries are ridiculous, unnecessary and often non-existent.
But where do these fears and anxieties stem from? In our busy modern world where communicating through status updates rather than face to face with a friend, partner or family member – and the constant bombardment of images, articles and “lifestyle” supplements that tell us what we should be doing, and thinking and feeling – its hard to remember that beyond the heavily doctored news feed, most people share the same anxieties and fears and worries, its just no one wants to admit it. And its bloody difficult to match up to this constant and exhausting perfection. The internet, quite frankly terrifies me in terms of its content and power.
“Don’t worry. Worry is useless. I worried anyway”
― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars
I’m not suggesting we cut the cord tying us to social media. I love social media. I am a HUGE Twitter and Facebook advocate. I’m just suggesting that we take it for what it is. I don’t want to bang on too much as I’ve already written my thoughts about this in a previous post.
I recently read an interesting article about how we, as Brits, cope with feeling unhappy. We’re known for our stiff upper lip attitude and ability to look on the bright side of life – but could this attitude be doing more harm than good?
Should I really give in to my irrational thoughts, or should I ignore them? In her new book “Constructive Wallowing,” US psychologist Tina Gilbertson states that “dwelling on our bad feelings is, in fact, the key to health and happiness.” Who’d have thunk it?
Of course, she’s not talking about necking a bottle of wine and harping on to anyone with ears about all your probs, but rather she’s suggesting that we take time to listen to our thoughts, address the cray, and get on board with being a bit nicer to ourselves **imagines slightly awkward group session where everyone talks about feeeeeelings and runs away screaming*
My cynical side says this sounds a bit like crap and wants to roll her eyes sarcastically, but if you brush aside all the psycho-babble, it actually sounds likes common sense. Shock horror.
Of course issues will get out of control when you refuse to address them, or when you feel stupid for allowing yourself a bit of wallowing time. Ignoring them = sure fire way to build them up into something monstrous.
A friend and I used to have days where we’d get out the sofa bed, make cocktails and watch shows that we knew would make us cry (Greys Anatomy was one, and we were also partial to a bit of X Factor/BGT for access to Nan-cam – a guaranteed bringer of tears). When things were particularly awful, we opted the “take it to the kitchen floor” method which involved us lying on a cold tiled floor, listening to something whiny on the radio, and talking about what was going wrong. Now we no longer live together, we have a playlist where each of us adds songs that make us feel sad, or happy, or remind us of each other or a better time.
Its the great feeling you get when the notification that a new song has been added, like a text message from a loved one that just instantly make you feel better. Its another friend of mine who just makes me laugh. Its become part of what makes us tick as friends, to make fun of awful situations and worries, and all the crap stuff that comes along. It works and makes us feel brilliant. Its the pair of red heart earrings I received in the post from another friend when I was feeling low. The note in a suitcase full of clothes. The hand grasping mine in the rain near a statue in London. The bottles of wine shared over lazy dinners. The laughter. The talking.
So why is it then, that we don’t do these things for ourselves? Why do we forget to be our own best friend?
My irrational side will always exist. I will always be “a bit of a worry-wart” and fret over ridiculous things because that’s who I am and I don’t think that will change. The key is to avoid letting things build up like a game of Jenga because eventually the balancing act is going to give way and you’ll be left with a great big bastard mess to clear up.
I don’t know about you lot, but I’m grabbing the cookie dough ice cream from the freezer and sticking on a bit of Take That and my p-jay-jays, for a bit of serious wallowing!