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When everything reminds you of your pain, what are you supposed to do?

The italicized word above is meant literally.

When everything reminds you of your pain, what are you supposed to do?

There. Now it's even bolded.

Does your mind play this trick on you by which it can make everything link back to your anxiety? Or the emotional pain you're trying to avoid?

Mine always did.

No matter what I did, my mind refused to clean up. It was addicted to horror and despair. It begged for safety and reassurance, but when I gave it that, it would projectile vomit it out like a rotten apple.

5 seconds.

It would take 5 seconds for my mind to convert...

  • job promotions and awards into thoughts about death and sexual violence (pure OCD)
  • a beautiful sunset with a loving partner into all the ways things haven't worked out (depression, generalized anxiety)
  • an observation of art in a museum into memories of the difficult childhood I had. (PTSD; complex trauma)
  • compliments from a friend about my new hairdo into the panic attacks I will have to avoid when I'm 60 (panic disorder)
  • waking up from a good night sleep into planning for the medical illnesses I can get struck with (hypochondria)
The more I gave it the very thing it wanted (proof of a good life), the more it fought back with proof of itself. Proof that come what may, it's not going to change.

There was no stopping my mind. It was completely out of my control.

So now what?

Mental health treatments makes it very clear to us that as long as our mind is stuck in the forces of doom and despair, we cannot expect our lives to grant us the promise and purpose we ask from it.

We're badly stuck aren't we?

When everything reminds you of your anxiety, what are you supposed to do?

Interpret this to mean a rotten mind?

Don't.

Interpret it as rotten attempt at treating the mind.

After years of asking the mind to give me what I need, the time came for me to do something for it instead.

I have watched the same challenges with the people I've supported in recovery since then. They're stuck in the same battles I once was. All because the human mind has been grossly misunderstood.

In my Lifehack.org article How to Overcome Anxious Thoughts: With Milk, a Hat & a Post Office, I explain the human mind.

It's ability to make everything about everything. This ability is not a sign of mental illness. It's a sign of it being a human mind. And while this ability helps us enormously with the outside world, it's not very well set up to manage our inside world.

Your only job is to refuse being at war with this mind. Oh yeah, and refuse the word of the therapist, friend or lover who says something like "You are your thoughts". Because, no, you're not.

There are 2 practical exercises that I want you to play. The exercises are simple to follow, and will take you less than 2 minutes each.

Take a look at:

  1. What we've set ourselves up against
  2. Why it can never work
  3. Why none of this has to mean anything bad
I think what you'll really enjoy here is that all you really need are Milk, a Hat and a Post Office to hand you an important lesson.