Too many of us are into self-torture. It needs to stop. We’ve gotta stop punishing ourselves.
It’s easy to take life, and other’s unskilled ways, personally. But, when we do, we pay the cost and our mental, emotional and physical heath suffer. I know because I was the Queen of my own suffering for many years.
One rude or negative comment, a foul look or cold-shoulder from another, could ruin my day and consume my thoughts. Internal Worry Committee meetings most frequently commenced at bedtime, and affected my sleep. Unspeakable conversations raging in my mind. I could turn a perfectly happy-me into a tensed-ball of humanity, who imagined horrors, and suffered greatly.
I was a people-pleaser and believed my identity and worth came from the approval and validation of others. My happiness and sense-of-self were contingent on situations and other people, many of whom were living the same way I was, asleep and unaware.
Something said, or not said, a look, an unskilled remark, or mistake I’d made, all became fodder for my mind. I’d spend hours or days suffering inside the virtual reality of my own mind.
What was really happening around me faded into the background as I was consumed with the horror show inside my head and the pit in my gut. It was a form of self-torture as adrenaline and cortisol surged through my body, keeping me from thinking clearly. I existed in a state of fight-or-flight. It was expensive to my health and happiness. I was often grumpy, feeling wounded or ashamed. I wasn’t too pleasant to be around.
I didn’t know there was another way, as most of my friends were living the same way. It seemed normal. I have great compassion for this younger version of myself. I took life so personally, and I suffered.
I’d yet to awaken to the wisdom of asking myself an important question, “Will this current situation even matter, or be remembered, in one year?”
When I learned this, I considered the many sleepless nights and the days of mental torture I’d spent.
For most, I couldn’t even remember what they were about. I’d handed control of my life over to other people and I didn’t even know it. The object of my worry was so inconsequential and mattered so little, I couldn’t even recall what happened.
We, alone, determine the amount of air-time we give to the minutia, the ups-and-downs of life. We choose how much mental and emotional coin we spend by jumping on the mental loop of suffering. Many times, we feed i and keep it going, prolonging our pain.
Pausing to ask ourselves if we’ll remember the moment or situation in one year, and how much it’ll matter to us then, is a perfect place to begin. If not one year, then five; will it matter in five years?
Next time you notice you are triggered, or the hamster-wheel of the worrying mind kicks into action, pause, take three deep breaths and ask yourself, “Will this matter or affect me in one year?” If not, don’t spend more than one-minute worrying about it.
This simple practice has improved the quality of my life in a powerful way.
I’ve learned to not make mountains out of mole-hills, to relax, and not take myself and life so seriously.
As you begin the practice, you may need to repeat the process a few times to remind yourself. Remember to breathe, to be patient, gentle, and kind with yourself, as you learn a new way.
It takes practice to change old neuropathways and habits of being. But it’s worth it.
This being human should come with an instruction manual.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.