The brain systems interrupt
The best thing I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older is: not only can you not trust what anyone else thinks, you sure as hell can’t trust what you think.
Except for that bit of wisdom. That, you can trust.
Yesterday, I went running. I think I’ve gone running three times this week. My running schedule has been sporadic since summer (read: if I run more than once a week, it’s an awesome running week), but I know I have to keep it up, because I learned something very, very important about running. It keeps my mood even. Running has worked better than any psychoactive drug for keeping me cheerful and upbeat.
I went running with Rob at Rancho, and we had a pretty good run and I felt great about it, both physically and in terms of endorphins earned.
Today, I used Freedom and turned off my computer for four hours. I got so much done in terms of applying butt to chair and getting stuff done that I realized I really have to make an Applescript that simply runs Freedom at 9am every weekday and turns off the Internet for four hours. I love it when I have a really productive writing day.
So, to recap: I ran yesterday, and I had a great writing day today. Anyone want to guess how I’m feeling right now?
That’s right: like crap. I have the voices in my head telling me…well, telling me all those things that your voices probably tell you. It can be summed up as “Everything you have ever done is wrong, and you’re a bad dancer to boot.” The kind of voice cacophony where it becomes hard to breathe.
The first thing I have to do is remember: You can’t trust your own thoughts. They’re just thoughts. Just because you’re having them doesn’t make them any more or less true than any other thoughts. There are days when I think I’m a damn snappy dancer, I’ll tell you that. (Those days are rare, because in point of fact I’m not a good dancer, and I’m okay with that, frankly. No part of my ego is dependent on my ability to feel the rhythms.)
The second thing I have to do is what I call a systems interrupt for my brain. I think various branches of psychology or pop psychology call this process by different things. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the mystery schools called it some variant on a spell or incantation. Which seems fair, because this technique works wonders.
Okay, so you’re having one of these bad days, where all you can do is focus on every single thing you’ve ever done wrong (or failed to do at all). What you say inside your head is:
Thanks for saying that, brain. Now shut the fuck up.
Say it out loud if you have. Say it a lot. Say it until the voice in your head shuts the fuck up. Say it every time the voice pipes up.
This process works. The first time I heard about it, I thought, Well, that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. I swear to you, since I started doing this a few years ago, since I began immediately talking back every time the voice said anything, bad days have gotten a whole hell of a lot rarer. (Which is why a day like today is really such a bummer — I’ve forgotten how to deal with them.)
You have to take control of your own thoughts. They’re not particularly true just because you’re having them, and they can be discarded.
And make sure you’re getting a decent amount of aerobic exercise. At least walk a few times a week. There really is something to the whole endorphin theory of emotional management.