I awakened with some mild cold symptoms then immediately jumped to conclusions that they must be the manifestations of Covid. I usually would not dive into worst case scenarios, but knowing people who have caught the dreaded virus has shifted my reactive consciousness. Also, generally speaking, my analytical thinking is short-circuited upon immediately awakening from sleep. This combination creates scary inner turmoil.
I have a habit of over-thinking and reacting, I blame learning this reaction on my parents, who habitually indulged their fearful feelings and almost daily complained about headaches and assorted other unpleasant physical symptoms. One of my great-aunts once said our family has a “culture of hypochondria”. Such a mindset is unhelpful when an actual malady occurs because of so many prior instances of the body crying “wolf” when there were no actual illnesses. Naturally, this knowledge further compounds the downward spiral.
At those times when worry of this sort pops up, I take a few moments to remember that very often this inner turmoil is probably in my head and that I need to take a few breaths to calm down. In today’s case, after collecting my thoughts, I swallowed an ibuprofin pill. Soon, the headache subsided and I felt renewed and relieved.
This habit of conjuring worst-case scenarios has frequently caused setbacks and toxic thinking. This is why I’ve cultivated the practice of examining scenarios from alternate perspectives. I remind myself about all the things that are going right. I remember that mom’s and dad’s catastrophic thinking never helped their situations and led to a lot of needless unhappiness. As a backup plan, if the pain or symptoms become chronic, then I can schedule a visit with my physician to get a professional opinion. These reminders alone greatly calm the mind.
It’s important to remember the more one worries and escalates worst-case scenarios that such a mindset causes harm to oneself. One must be careful about one’s obsessions so as to avoid self-fulfilling prophesies. Also, tension and anxious feelings inhibit joy and happiness. If the worries are especially stubborn, then reaching out to a friend for her or his perspective helps get me over the rough spot. Of course, I reciprocate when they need to vent and get a different opinion. Usually a third-party perspective helps lead the way out of a stubborn funk.
The takeaway is that fear blocks rational thinking. So if one allows fears to run rampant, they impede our fullest potential and sap us of our life-force. It’s more difficult to move forward in life due to distress about what might happen. Also, it’s unwise to be hard on ourselves. Negative self-talk can begin to crowd into our thinking to cause further downward spirals. When this crops up, one must remember to be objective about the harmful self-talk and give ourselves realistic, positive reinforcement regarding our positive qualities. If this approach falters, it may be best to consult a licensed professional counselor.
All things considered, once progress is made, the improvements can be reminders to bolster helpful, constructive thinking. In most cases, life isn’t as dreadful as we have been led to believe. We can take some slow, deep breaths and take comfort in remembering all the good things about life.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes 20th century psychoanalyst, Silvano Arieti. “The creative person finds himself in a state of turmoil, restlessness, emptiness, and unbearable frustration unless he expresses his inner life in some creative way.”