I'm a brooder.
I over-analyze things until I'm blue in the face or until my husband threatens to divorce me if I don't stop.
I do this because I want to know the real meaning of things. I want to know every little nuance of a situation so that I can better understand what really happened. I do this mostly with embarrassing or awkward situations that leave me feeling insulted or insecure or just confused. I believe that I can rationalize these situations by thinking about them incessantly. I believe that this process will somehow make my life better.
A while ago, I noticed that a friend of mine behaves quite differently in similar situations. When someone says something snide or rude or insulting to her, she doesn't get upset, she doesn't talk about if for days on end, she doesn't re-play the situation over and over again in her head. She doesn't try to figure out what she said or did to make someone be rude to her. Nope, she doesn't do any of this. Do you know what she does instead: nothing. She ignores the insults or snide remarks entirely. She doesn't accept or acknowledge them AT ALL. And then she goes on about her business as usual. When I first recognized this, I have to say, I was a little offended by her behavior. How dare she not accept any negativity, who does she think she is... But after I pondered it for a while, I realized that she might just be onto something great. She might actually be the one re-acting in a sane manner, and all this brooding I've been doing all these years might just be completely insane. Because really, if I'm offended or insulted by someone, and then I go home and think about it all night, who is suffering here? Umm, ME. I am the only person effected by my brooding. It does nothing to change the other person. It does nothing to change the situation. It does nothing to change future encounters with that person. All it does is make me miserable.
So naturally, I was given a perfect opportunity for self-awareness and growth not long after I recognized my friend's behavior. I found myself in a group situation where my own performance and the feedback I got from the group was not what I had hoped for. I was feeling ignored and misunderstood and insecure. On my way home from this situation, I burst into tears over the whole ordeal. With each sob, waves of pain and desperation and shame and insecurity washed over me. I could feel myself and my emotions spiraling out of control. But then the strangest thing happened: It suddenly dawned on me that I DON'T HAVE to take this home with me. I can be like my friend, and let this roll off of my back. I realized that feeling this way was a CHOICE, and I had two options: I could continue to think about this, take it home and let it ruin my evening with my husband, OR I could do my best to let it go, push it from my mind, accept the situation for what it was, and move on. In the past, I've always chosen the first option. I never recognized that I was making a choice though. But in that tearful moment in my car, I finally realized that I had the power to choose whether or not I let this situation haunt me; I realized that I am in control of my thoughts and I can choose not to be miserable - I can choose to be happy. I'm not saying that this is easy. I have a lifetime habit of beating myself up, and its going to take a while to re-train myself. But at least I was able to stop and realize that there is a better way. And since that first light bulb moment, I've been able to re-direct my thoughts in countless other situations.
What about you? Are you a brooder? Have you ever had a light bulb moment where you realized that you have the power to re-direct your thoughts to something more positive? Or are you like my friend and you have no room for negativity in your life? Let me know your thoughts on this, I'd love to hear from you!
Till next time,
© Haley McManigal 2015
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