Thought Weeds

Do you ever get a thought that pops up into your mind and even though you acknowledge it as being completely irrational and unsound, it takes over your consciousness and suddenly all you can think about is this thought? I guess it’s similar to the whole “elephant in the room” idea, or the game (you just lost the game). It seems most people are able to let these thoughts go. They scoff at the notion and then release it from their minds, going on to think of bigger and better things-like how to rationalize getting frozen yogurt on the way home for the third time this week.
But for someone like me, who struggles with anxiety and tends to overthink to literally EVERY thought that passes through my mind, this thought begins to spread like a toxic weed. In that instance, my composure goes from relaxed/observant to hyperaware and oversensitive. The thought crowds out any positive thoughts that had been going on in my mind moments before and replaces them with feelings of doubt, insecurity, fear. All the truths I had known and felt secure in are now sinister creators of false security that have ulterior motives and will strike me if I don’t stay vigilant. Which then leads my assumption of the role of “investigator”.
This isn’t inherently problematic-curiosity is a good thing, it gives the life vigor and creates problems that the mind delights in solving. Curiosity is arguably what helped mankind evolve and exceed the capabilities of all other animal species (but that’s a blog post for a different night).
Curiosity, at least for me, is most dangerous when it’s rooted in insecurity. I become curious-to a crippling degree-about the behavior of the people in my life. The words they say or don’t say, the change in facial express, the difference in their tone with me versus the person next to me-I become hyperaware of all of these little nuances and mull them over in my mind until I arrive at what I believe to be the answer.
Now I’m sure you can see the issue here.
How am I supposed to know what’s going on in someone else’s mind? And more importantly, why do I always think that their behavior, their thoughts, their being, is in direct relation to my own? There could be a million things going on in their life that are more pressing, and yet I for some reason believe that I have the power to overshadow all of those things and become the sole determiner of their current state of being.
That’s irrational. But it’s also consuming. Because no matter how hard I try, I will never fully know why my friend is being more quite than normal, or why my roommate has been hiding in her room for the last week. Was it something I did, or is there something else going on in their life? I can try and convince myself that I know the answer, but the only way to truly know is to ask. Which means breaking through that wall society built that tells us to always answer the question, “How are you?”, with “fine”, even if the whole world is on fire and your life is in shambles and all you want in the world is to sit curl up on the couch with your knees to your chest and eat that entire pint of talenti gelato that you know has way too many calories but you know what it’s been a long day so who cares about that.
It means taking another step closer, looking them in the eye, and asking them, “But really, how are things going? What’s going on?”
And when the thought weeds show up in your mind, it means you have to do the same. Ask yourself, “What’s really going on? Why can’t you let this thought go? What’s got you so worked up about it?”
Maybe rather then silencing them for a moment by cutting of the tops, even though everyone knows that just makes them spread faster in the end, you can finally start pulling up the thought weeds by the roots.


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