Sometimes it seems easy for other people people to talk about changing life (yours, theirs, somebody else’s) for the better.
They don’t see how things go every day for you, don’t know all the little ways life conspires to remind you how much it sucks, how incapable you are, how it’s your lot in life to suffer, how you don’t deserve nice things.
Yet it’s those very people who, if you let them in on how things are going, can help give you a little perspective when you need it.
They may even help you over the problem that seems so daunting.
Back in mid-April, the driver’s door handle on the Laser broke. It’s still broken.
No, I don’t know whether it’s fixable, and I don’t like thinking about the state the car may or may not be in. We had a couple of surprise vet bills early in the year, and we’re having a minor plumbing crisis right now. When unplanned emergencies like that hit, the first place I tend to go for the money to fix them is the car budget.
Ergo, when something actually goes wrong with the car, I get pretty miserable – and discovering that there’s no way to open my door from within when I want to get out of the car triggered a bout of said misery.
So I – don’t laugh – I started rolling the seat backward so that I could wind the window of the passenger door behind me down, then reach around and open the car door from there.
Oh, come on. I asked you not to laugh.
I mean, it seemed like a good idea at the time. There I was, already stressing out about how I was going to afford to top the damned thing’s petrol tank up in the next few days, and it threw another wobbly on me.
And it still seemed like a good idea – until I told my wife about it on the phone a couple of days afterward. (Yeah, a couple of days. I just didn’t want to think about the unpleasant, unfixable, expensive, awkward problem.)
Yes, she laughed too. And asked why the hell I didn’t just wind my own window down and open the door that way.
No, I couldn’t think why I hadn’t thought of it either. Looking back, I was so down about it happening in the first place that my martyr brain came up with the most difficult solution first and refused to consider alternatives.
It’s a good thing to remember, especially in our information-saturated, high stress lives. When something new comes along, it’s easy to assume that it’s another complication for your already complicated life, that it will take serious time, money and effort to sort out.
How (do I) can you react in a way that’s more conducive to your overall mental well-being?
- Be aware of your state of mind. It’s a tricky ask, I know, but you’ll get better with practice. Once you come out of that mood (and you will), remember how it felt to be in it. Roll that experience over in your mind while you’re calm. Next time, you’ll notice the symptoms of your blue mood as they happen.
- Breathe. Deep, stomach-expanding breaths. It’s a damned good way to get your emotions in check.
- Listen to your inner martyr. Not in that “listen so you can do what it says” sense, but instead think of it as if it were talking about someone else. Catch your assumptions as you make them, but let the voice of un-reason have it say. Then once it’s done:
- Take stock of your situation and analyse it properly. Even better: Tell someone about your problem. Even if it’s just in the course of telling that person about your day: Bring it up. A fresh set of eyes may help you see the bleeding obvious. (And someone else laughing about your dramas will help you start laughing about them too!)