The Wonder Stuff sang about blowing up our problems to the size of a cow..it happens so quickly and slips under our radar.
Let’s say your partner has gone somewhere on a beautiful sunny day -they did not say when they would be back- and you had in mind that you would be expecting him/her back in around three or four hours. So you go about your day, and the time comes to when you would be expecting your partner to return and they do not. So rather than lose the best of the weather you yourself go out with the anticipation that your partner will be home as you get home. You decide to take a walk in the countryside and when you arrive at the parking area, there is only one place to park which is ridiculously small and tricky to get into because the other motorists have parked inconsiderately.
What sorts of thoughts and feelings would you be having about your partner returning home later than you were expecting? And would these thoughts and feelings have an impact on you when you arrived at the car park? My guess is that we might at least feel irritable or angry or worried when our partner has not arrived home at the time we thought they would, and that we carry these feelings and thoughts with us as we drive to our walk destination car park. Once we arrive at the car park and find that it could have been easy to park but due to others’ actions it isn’t, my guess is that our thoughts and feelings negatively escalate.
And so it is clear to see that the mood in which we approach situations has an influence on their outcome. In the above example, we might well feel even angrier at the lack of parking and our feelings are often fuelled by our thoughts which initiates a vicious cycle of anger, frustration and stress. So rather than enjoying the walk in the sunshine we may well be having the same walk repeating the story of how we have been wronged by our partner and the motorists, perhaps thinking of what we might say to our partner or others and looking for evidence to justify our position. At the same time as these thoughts are running round our head our emotions are also building and our bodies may react by becoming tense, we may be walking more quickly than usual, we may be frowning and we certainly will not be enjoying the countryside.
Our thoughts, emotions and bodily sensations are intricately linked and influence each other. Furthermore, once we have identified that we have been wronged by a particular person (or group of persons) our minds will look for evidence of other episodes in which they wronged us. Our heads become full of mental Post-it notes stating all those incidences and we may even picture ourselves saying things to the wrongdoer about what they have done wrong and how and recounting all those other times they have similarly wronged us. We might also be cooking up ways to get our revenge or to hurt them in some way so that they can feel the hurt we feel.
Your partner returns home 6 ½ hours later oblivious to the volcano of thoughts, feelings and emotions you have experienced. It’s not rocket science to anticipate that what follows might be an argument possibly followed by days of not talking to each other! This kind of scenario happens all the time. But when we pull it apart we can see that the facts are that your partner did not say when they would be coming back; it was your assumption that put the time limit on it. Your own thoughts feelings and bodily sensations grew in intensity and size through repetition of playing the story in your head, searching for other instances of similar episodes, and justifying potential revenge actions. Essentially our thoughts have been the catalyst for making this situation much bigger than it is. If you are interested in learning more about your own mind through counselling or mindfulness, give me a ring, text or email.