Unless you’ve experienced anxiety firsthand or lived through it with a loved one, it can be very difficult to understand why people dwell on things. Perhaps some people want to keep something in the forefront, but for me, things that happened before can work very hard in your mind to keep you unfocused and disoriented. It’s simple to just let an anxious thought circulate in your mind and focus on it, even if you have an understanding support system.
How does one go about making it go away? Well, one thing I’ve seen that has worked in the past is to occupy the mind with fresh ideas, alternative activities or keeping busy with things that enrich and enhance your life. Also, taking a look at the “thing” that won’t go away in your head and really (and I mean REALLY) taking a look at it from all angles. Ask yourself questions that matter such as why is this thing taking up valuable real estate in your mind? Or perhaps asking what can I do to replace this with something positive? Sure, it’s easier said than done, but baby steps is my mantra.
It’s easy to click and add a poignant 2019 meme and declare it my new psychological approach to instant healing (lol), but I assure you, that is not the case! I struggle every day to make sense of things and why they attach themselves to my thinking. I like the phrase above as it says, “Don’t be a prisoner to things you can’t change”. It’s a great way of looking at rumination and intrusive past events creeping in. It’s truly a stagnation to achieving growth and we almost always know it, but for some reason, we can’t figure out how to make it stop. Sure, it’s something I talk about in therapy, but I try not to beat myself up about it…too often.
One thing that I do that I’m quite aware of, is to stop talking about the thing that is bothering me. There can be a cathartic effect when talking about it, but when there is an opposing receptor of the issue, that can erase all the positive effects of examining and talking about it. So, if I do talk about things that I have before, I have taken to doing so either to myself or sometimes not at all. Yes, I know how unhealthy that is, but not wanting to invite extraneous conversation that is quite counterproductive to helping to sort through the anxiety and move past an issue just creates another whole loop of things to worry about. So, silence can be golden in this case.
I don’t quite agree with Helen Keller’s wording of this quote, but I think I can work with it. Perhaps the “door of happiness” that closes in her quote is one that we once thought was happiness, but was quietly and systematically destroying us with deception and doubt. When we are vulnerable and not thinking clearly, not working towards bettering ourselves and living for unrealistic goals, we tend to feel a happiness that isn’t genuine. It can take some time (a really long time to be honest in my case) to see the proverbial forest for the trees. Life truly is a compilation of a dense and thick forest, sometimes rife with dangers and temptations that we partake of that are NOT for us, but still we traverse through the thickets and thorns and emerge, damaged and with scars, but we can still walk among the border and seek a friendlier path. While the journey to peace is elusive and long, one cannot simply give up on trying to attain it just because it seems tough and far off. I know I’ll get there one day, I truly do.