I have this really frustrating habit.
After a lovely evening of hanging out with friends, I will get a nagging feeling afterward, like I’ve done everything wrong, I’ve said everything wrong, and I’ve just been an altogether terrible person.
That’s probably not true. (Right? I also need constant reassurance, btw.) And it certainly doesn’t add to my fun or enhance my experiences.
I hang onto a lot of things. I remember things from years ago, and I go over them in my head, over and over and over again. These are not major events when I hurt someone or when I did wrong, mind you; I obsess about minor interactions I’ve had that probably no one else remembers.
This is not great for my happiness or for my balance.
This kind of negative self-talk can be really frustrating, as anyone who experiences it knows. You can get swallowed up by negative self-talk. It can turn a fun night with friends and family into a source of tremendous anxiety and self-doubt. You can be haunted by tiny mistakes from your past.
I’ve been struggling with this for years. And it’s not just about things from the past. I relate a lot to the kind of storytelling that Brene Brown talks about in her latest book, Rising Strong. We all tell ourselves stories, every day. I see a co-worker making a weird face, and I think to myself, She hates me.
That’s just a story I’m telling. Maybe it’s accurate, or maybe it’s not. But it’s not reality – it’s something I made up in my head.
I’ve been told that this habit is common with introverts, who are inclined to overthink the things they’ve said out loud.
So – what do I do about this?
I think I go back to what this blog is about – balance, letting go, and living in the flow.
It can be so hard to let go of things. It can even be hard to let go of things that suck and make our lives so much worse.
When I think about ways to let go of made-up stories that interfere with my happiness, I go back to mindfulness and faith. If I want to be happy, I have to keep myself in the present moment. (If you want to be anxious, live in the future, and if you want to be sad, live in the past – but, if you want to feel peaceful and happy, live in the now.) That’s mindfulness – keeping yourself present and focused in the current moment, not obsessing about something that happened fifteen years ago.
Then, there’s faith – having faith that things fall into place the way they’re supposed to. I always have to remind myself to have faith that these things I obsess about will resolve themselves, and that it’s okay to let go. Letting go doesn’t mean you don’t care, or that things won’t work out the way you want them to. Letting go is about acknowledging that there’s a balance to everything in life, and that life will let you know when action is needed on your part.
Just like the trees, I am constantly living and learning and letting go. Hopefully, I’ll get better and better until I let go with the simplicity and grace that the autumn trees do.