A good friend of mine has recently been seeing a psychologist to help them through a particularly tough time in their lives and we were chatting about it a little while ago. They told me something their Crazy Doc had told them about managing negativity which has really stuck with me.
Negative thinking is like standing at a train station. When something happens to provoke “bad” thoughts, a train pulls into the station intent on taking you off on a journey through all your worst fears and insecurities, dragging up all the things which will drag you down and leading you on a sombre dance of distress.
But if you learn to recognise the triggers, you can provide a platform announcer in your head who can flag up the destination of the train pulling in and you can choose to stay on the platform. You can elect not to take the train to the dark place, but instead to board the daylight express to the end of the tunnel. You just have to be able to recognise the moments when you need the announcer.
It’s all well and good noting wisdom and realising its benefits, it’s quite another to put it into practice in everyday life.
Which is why I’m so happy about my day today and the way I’ve managed to avoid getting on the wrong train and instead enjoyed my time at home and looked forward to other things later in the week.
K took my mum out for a girlie shopping trip this afternoon, nominally looking for Christmas presents, but largely to look at pretty things and coo. I stayed at home in the flat, mostly to sleep.
In days gone by recently, this would have upset me. Not because I yearned for the chance to run around town pointing at prettiness (I’m not that girlified…), nor because I had a desire to nick a melange of treats from the sweetie barrow, but simply because they were doing something that I felt I couldn’t do.
But I chose not to get on that train, to avoid the Sloppy Bollocks Express to Tear Town, and instead jump on the Chill Train to the City of Smiles. Rather than see the afternoon as a missed opportunity to go out, it was instead a perfect opportunity to sit back, relax and pop on a DVD that I love but rarely get the chance to enjoy. (That’s The West Wing, not anything best “enjoyed” alone, you dirty minded older-brother-types. Yes, I’m talking to the twins.)
I find myself at my computer this evening not sullenly relaying stories of my abandonment, but finding ways of communicating how far I feel I’ve come in the last 24 hours in breaking the back of my adaptation process.
Life’s all about the ups and the downs – riding the waves and hoping not to fall off. But you always know that even if you do, all you have to do is paddle back out and you’ll pick up another one soon enough.
I may not get back to the level I was at before this summer, I may have to make changes and adjustments, I may want to scream and shout and tear the place down, but I know that with the love and support of all those around me, I’ll keep on going.
Kipling once wrote, “If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster / And treat those two impostors just the same,” then, “Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, / And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!”.
My Triumph is waiting for me in the wings, and Disaster may be in the way, but you know what? I can take it. Hurl whatever you want at me, World, because sooner or later I’m going to have new lungs and I’m going to hurl it straight back!