Replacing mental turmoil with something productive

I got smoked over the past week by engaging with garbage thoughts. Not that any of the thoughts themselves were that bad, but I spent way more energy than I wanted passively ruminating about upcoming dread/hassle events (like getting a new work cell phone, coordinating with the pharmacy).

I was talking to my parents about this yesterday, and it made one distinction more clear in my mind – I am completely aware that my stressors are objectively not that bad. Compared to most of the world’s population, my external problems are not substantial relative to theirs. My problems are not objectively big problems.

However, as I was apparently having a hard time effectively communicating to my parents, the problem is how I’m handling these stressors. I’m letting them kind of hang around in my mind, popping up to make me feel terrible and burn away more energy – while accomplishing nothing. And then when I notice this is happening, I beat myself up because I know this shouldn’t be happening.

In other words, my post from last week about accepting the garbage thoughts and moving on – it’s losing it’s effectiveness.

I think the issue is I’m not giving myself something to redirect my energy towards, in the aftermath of disengaging from a garbage thought process. I am able to neutralize probably like 90% of the garbage thought, but without redirecting my energy towards something else immediately (within the next few minutes), I slip back into the useless thought process.

So my theory of what’s going on is, right after successfully disengaging from garbage thought, I am highly predisposed/at-risk for an immediate relapse – and that risk probably falls off sharply with time.

I also am noticing that I have a deep-seated fear of going into this garbage thought process/turmoil. Even when I’m feeling good at a given moment, I find myself thinking ‘wait but shouldn’t you be feeling terrible?’ I know, an absolutely useless thought pattern.

However, this is different than my brain scanning for something specific to worry about – I think I handle that decently well, at least for me. It’s more, I’m just scared of falling into a state of mental turmoil again – and my brain is apparently telling me that, even if I feel good right now, I really should be feeling terrible. Fun times at the O.K. Corral.

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