Am I basing my judgment on the way I “feel” instead of the “facts” of a situation? Do you approach your good and bad days in a realistic sense? I was all set for imagining the worst-case scenario each time I got stuck. Allowing those damaging thoughts to seep in is so easy.
Living with rules, I found comfort.
“I am an adult for goodness sake, hence I should be responsible.”
“People should not disregard me.”
“I must not be feeling angry.”
“They should always love me.”
Two options. If it isn’t good, then it is bad.
It’s like rules, regulations, expectations and plans are expected to be followed completely and accurately. Considering alternative solutions, ideas, and viewpoints, were distant to me. I processed my thoughts in the absolute fashion. Which left me with only two possibilities.
Neither were they attainable, nor maintainable. That was the problem. I was struggling to adapt with changes and believed those thoughts about myself – feeling overwhelmed; blaming myself for others’ behaviors. Being caught up in others perception of me and spending hours doing nothing.
Why do we hold prejudices today? Political, racial, sexual, religious. Think about it for a moment. If you notice, they have one thing in common. i.e. rigid forms of misinformation. Also, rigid demands: people should see it from my point of view; people should agree; people ought to know better, etc.
It was my own inability to consider alternatives. Words like “always,” “must,” and “should” each signify our rigidity. Such a frame of mind makes you cling tightly to preconceptions and generalizations. It was easy to detect.
There are so many things people struggle with in life. Loss of a loved one, involvement in car accidents, being abandoned by friends, leaving a job. So what do we do? We stick to our rigid form of thinking. Or we can find our middle path.
To approach a realistic sense of harmony.
I realized that living with two options was necessary for a reason. Such rigid mind was my comfort zone. It helped me cope with the anxiety of tomorrow. Loss of a loved one, failing that exam, moving to another city. To protect myself, I created a set of rules.
Obviously, it wasn’t really working. I was frustrated, fearful and hostile.
Letting go of the usual way, I took a realistic approach. I was prepared for unexpected situations this time.
Replacing “either-or” options with “both-and” alternatives, balanced two options realistically. They came with benefits that I didn’t realize. I changed my rules, and brainstormed more than two options for every difficulty. That allowed me to keep anxiety at a faraway distance.
“I might perform bad in tomorrow’s interview… but even if I miss it, that won’t mean I’d never get a job.”
“I’d be anxious if that happens… I get anxious and know how to deal with it, I will try some calm breathing.”
“Janet must be mad at me as she didn’t text me… I’ll get the conflict resolved, If she’s really mad.”
Neither too rigid, nor too loose. The new rules validated me. It allowed space for acceptance. Potential problems turned into opportunities. The realistic approach further gave me solutions. My rigid state of mind had shifted to increased flexibility. I found a new sense of harmony within.
“Today is a really crappy day. Sometimes, there are crappy days. My toes are a total wreck, my fingernails worse, and god knows my hair could use a registered nurse. But that’s still okay. Tomorrow won’t be the same.” – Unknown
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