33: thinking to death

For the past couple weeks, I’ve been grappling with a difficult decision that I may soon have to make.

Along with it came an intimidating concoction of difficult emotions with which to wrestle as a part of the decision-making process.

I don’t know anyone who enjoys dealing with depression, doubt or fear (not the thrilling kind of fear you might get from a horror flick or a haunted house, mind you, but actual dread about the future).

In fact, I’ve always been under the impression that these are emotions to be avoided at all costs. My life, as I explained a couple of posts ago, has long been a fruitless quest for happiness.

So I’ve always found it much easier in the short-term to just put a decision off. To bottle up my emotions, hide them from others. The more a decision might negatively impact someone who is close to me, the more carefully I stow it away from them.

Throughout my life, this concealment was one of my primary coping mechanisms.

Sounds incredibly unhealthy, no?

But lately, I’ve been forced to think about coping with my more difficult emotions in a new light.

My personality lends itself to deep, analytical thought.

I’m a problem-solver, and when confronted with a difficult situation, I tend to break it down into its tiniest parts and think each one to death.

For example, a major decision isn’t just choice A or choice B. It becomes every possible pro and con, every possible outcome in dozens of hypothetical chain reactions resulting from my choice.

I ask myself: how will each choice affect my daily life? My long-term satisfaction? My relationships with others?

And for every exciting, hopeful possibility I can imagine, I am capable of conjuring up an equal but opposite scenario which causes me deep emotional distress.

Coming up against enough hypothetical distress can quickly lead down into a dark pit of very real despair over things that haven’t even happened to me and may never will.

I’ve long viewed my tendency to over-analyze problems as a hindrance.

Not only do decisions take forever, but near-constant second-guessing has contributed to stage fright and acute social anxiety in the past.

I realize the value in some level of hesitation – I make very few rash decisions, and I consider very carefully how my actions impact those around me, so as not to harm anyone.

The real problem is constant over-thinking. I need to be capable of exercising some control over how and when I choose to cope with emotions. Too often I let myself become consumed with negativity, which makes it tough to get work done, be creative, or socialize.

My ma told me earlier this evening to do some praying.

Now I’m not a religious guy, but I see the very real value in her suggestion. Prayer is a form of meditation, of “listening to your heart.” I typically just call it reflection.

Regardless of what you call it, it’s important to create a space in which to look within, ponder problems, acknowledge emotions, and draw conclusions. Some turn to a higher power. Whatever works.

I want to learn to reflect more purposefully – to enter that space as long as I need to, but then to leave and be able to act purposefully based on that reflection.

In that way, I hope to gain a little more control over my own brain, and for the clouds of internal struggle to give way to some clarity.

Cos that sounds nice.


3 Replies to “33: thinking to death”

  1. I did mean prayer and not reflection. Actually asking for help. It’s hard for independent people to ask for help – from anyone! But sometimes it’s the only way to resolve things or at least bring some peace.

    1. I didn’t think of it like that. I don’t often feel comfortable asking God for help. I don’t believe he exists to serve me or do things for me. But that’s a different conversation I s’pose.

    2. Megan is RIGHT Prayer is powerful–even if we do not get what we want when we pray. It strengthens us –and as the Rolling Stones sang, “you can’t always get whet you want, but if you try (pray) sometimes, you’ll find you get what you need.”

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