People with a history of trauma, chaos, and dysfunction sometimes can have a tough time not expecting the worst, and reacting as though that is the foregone conclusion. I know this because it’s exactly how my mind works. Without going into too much detail (that’s what my Patreon is for) my past is peppered with disastrous consequences, things that just were downright unfair, and drama that was of my own making alongside some genuine tragedy.
My brain is working off its past information. So when someone doesn’t text back it tells me they must have died. Or perhaps they are angry at me. Like when I would wake up after a blackout and check my phone in a frenzy, trying so hard to work out if I’ve ruined my life or not. I have this kneejerk reaction that this must be a catastrophe. And as we know, when I experience catastrophe, real or imagined, I need something to numb the stress, pain, and fear.
This is where I check the facts. Amongst all the enormous feelings, can I find the facts of the matter? Do the facts warrant the intensity of the feeling response? It’s ok to have enormous feelings and cravings, but it’s important to consider the proportions.
In these moments I try to separate the emotion from the event. What has actually happened – if I separate my interpretations and assumptions that I’ve attached to it. Now I cross-reference, do the feelings fit the facts?
If I feel up to it, I can write what I’m scared of. I have perceived a disaster because my friend didn’t text back, I’m scared they hate me, and will leave me. What other facts surround this? Could they be busy? Are they at work? Are they driving? Usually yes, and usually they always get back to me when they can. Usually, they are not dead, and they are not angry at me.
This exercise doesn’t mean bad things won’t happen, and sometimes the worst can occur, but it saves energy on always assuming the worst and living there - instead of living in the present moment. And that is what sobriety is all about for me, living in reality.
Is there something in your life right now you could check the facts on? What about in the past?
Two tiny things:
- Eat your favourite sweet treat today, whether it’s your favourite chocolate, baked good (you can even make it) or fruit platter – indulge in something sweet.
- Throw something away, a picture, an old gift, or just something you’re hoarding. Maybe don’t stop at just one thing.