As I mentioned on FB last week, I’ve had a good pout going on recently. Why? The same reason anyone pouts, really.
I want something I can’t have.
Yes, I know “can’t” is a relative term, but quibbling the semantics would take awhile and far more details than I have any intention of giving out, so just assume I’ve done all the math and angsting over real & opportunity cost and the things I control vs. what I don’t (you know me…I over-analyze everything), and know that “can’t” is reasonably accurate in this instance.
Pouting, of course, isn’t terribly conducive to actually getting things that need to be done, done. And while I think sometimes we need to just acknowledge the fact that we’re sad/annoyed/upset by something, keeping that mindset for any length of time tends to spill over to those around us – and not in a good way. We act differently. Treat people differently. Jeopardize good relationships. It’s a very destructive place to be, mentally speaking.
Naturally, there are lots of things I can’t have, so it’s not like I get everything I want all the time. Most of those things, I just let go, without issue. The things I pout about though – those are the things that I really feel like I might regret either doing or not doing, whichever suits. In my case, I tend to regret “not doing/getting” more often, simply because I’m really not much of a risk taker, so I tend to err on the side of caution more often than not. For all that caution though, I don’t really have many actual regrets. I tend to look back on my actions and know that at that exact point in my life, with the knowledge that I had, the choice I made was the right one for where I ended up. But I can never see that when I’m trying desperately to find any which way I can to make something that just won’t work…work. Reality TV has nothing on the drama that sometimes goes on in my head.
It gets a little chaotic. And stupid, to put it bluntly.
So how do I escape such destructive mental acrobatics? The first thing I do is admit that the desire for whatever it is I want isn’t going to just go away. It’s there, it’s real, and I need to learn to live with it (or duck tape it and lock it in a dusty back room, in any case). It’s sort of giving in, but it frees up that energy I’ve been spending fighting it for other things, like the next step, which is keeping mentally busy.
The more I want something I can’t have, the more I obsess over it (which is just not healthy no matter how you spin it). So the second thing I do is bury myself in projects at work, and more projects at home (organizing, writing, cleaning, crochet, etc), to the point where it crowds out everything else. It’s less about running from whatever’s bugging me and more about letting my subconscious figure out how to deal with it while I get on with my life. It’s not like the subject doesn’t still pop up in the brain all too often, it’s just more manageable when my head is full of other things, because I’m not obsessing (over that, anyways). Eventually things quiet down again (as much as they ever do, anyways), and I’m able to manage the “want” far better once I’ve throttled it’s presence in my head. Much like any problem, I guess – stop thinking so hard about it, and the answer will generally present itself.
I also find it’s important to get more physical exercise. Exercise raises endorphin levels in the brain among other things, and while the advice to exercise more is trite, it’s also true. A friend of mine is “nagging” me by request for a week with daily emails to ask if I’ve worked out yet. I have to do at least some sort of workout every single day now. And it’s definitely helping – my mind is clearer, my focus better, and my attitude is a lot more positive as well.
Last but certainly not least is to focus on what I do have, and what I’m already happy with. Maybe I can’t have everything I want, but I can have a smaller part, and there’s no reason not to focus on/enjoy that, rather than focusing on wanting more. I have a very bad habit of getting caught up in the “all or nothing” mentality, and so often in life, that’s just an unnecessary restriction. It’s actually the root cause of a lot of unease…if I can let go of that and just live in the moment, I can avoid a lot of angst.
Easier said than done, of course, but still true.
Needless to say, my head is in a much better place than it was just a few days ago, thank goodness. I’m optimistic for the week…