I totally understand why there is such a large “self-help” section in bookstores and libraries. We are programmed to seek answers and solve problems – especially relating to ourselves and those we love.
We are also programmed to anticipate and avoid danger. Now, most of us have food and shelter taken care of, and avoiding predators is relatively easy nowadays (at least the furry kind – the ones in the suits are a bit more difficult!), but part of our brain hasn’t quite caught up to evolutionary advancements and, as a result, we tend to focus on the negative in our lives.
Once I realized that the factory setting in my brain was overly sensitive, I had to learn ways to cope. I awaken every morning with my brain screaming “danger danger danger” and just last year the wiring in my brain fizzled out from over-use.
I guess “decent into madness” is an offensive way of putting it. Oh, and I’ve learned that “nervous breakdown” is also a passe term. In fact, when you’re treated at The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, you are referred to as a “Client” not a “Patient”. I’m no stranger to offending people, so I still refer to myself as a patient (I’m under a doctor’s care, for goodness sake, not shopping for car insurance).
The single most effective treatment I learned in therapy was writing down the top THREE worries that are foremost in my mind, and following that up with TEN things are going right in my life. Acknowledging your concerns in this way is, for some reason, very cathartic. Then the true magic happens when you start listing the things in your life that you’re grateful for. It turns out that, more often than not, I have to stop myself at ten because I could go on and on.
I was given a hospital workbook for this purpose, but by all means, treat yourself to a beautiful journal. Or open a Google Doc. Either way, keep them in a format you can refer back to. I am amazed at how many things on my worry list never happened, and I love looking back and seeing the happy things I wrote down more than a year ago.
I’ve mentioned before that it is impossible to be kind to others if we are not first kind to ourselves. Try this exercise over the next week or so and I promise that it will fill your heart with joy and tame your screaming brain into silence.
Have a safe and happy weekend, everyone!