I’ve got to stop…

…gazing into my crystal ball!

Crystal ball Français : Boule de cristal

Do you do that? Start predicting the future based on a single, solitary comment from someone? It’s not my only psychic trick, either, I also have this great mind-reading stunt where I can tell what someone’s going to say before they’ve said it….

When I went through my Dialectic Behaviour Therapy (DBT) course, these two “tricks” came up in conversation on a fairly frequent basis. And they are “tricks” in the truest sense of the word: our brains are trying to trick us into thinking we actually know what’s going to happen. We don’t.

As a scientist (of sorts), I should know better than to jump to a conclusion based on a single piece of evidence. But my brain’s good at tricking me and, every so often, I fall into the trap of believing the negative images it paints.

And when you start thinking negative thoughts, you start feeling negative and the two start feeding into each other until you have the common sense to stop the thinking. Not easy when you have BPD, but it CAN be done with a heck of a lot of mindfulness and some pre-prepared self-soothing techniques.

Sleepless in SeattleWhen I caught my mood plummeting last night, I locked up my crystal ball and switched off my ESP. I shoved a pizza in the oven with all my favourite toppings, pulled on my comfiest sweatshirt, lit some nice-smelling candles, and picked a movie to watch. And it worked. I went to bed in one hell of a lot better mood than I started the evening in!

It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Just (I used to hate that word because it implies the rest of the sentence is going to be easy)…”Just” stop thinking about it and do something else. That’s all you have to do.

I got incredibly grouchy with many a nurse and doctor who told me to do that during my incarceration in the loony-bin. It’s hard to take your mind off how bad you’re feeling when you’re locked in a hospital with other depressed people, magazines and books you’ve already read twice, and a choice of Emmerdale or Coronation Street on the telly.

But in your own home, in your own space, you CAN find ways to switch off the negative thinking. It takes a lot of effort, I won’t deny that, but it CAN be done. You need to surround yourself with nice things. Nice smells, nice things to eat, nice things to occupy yourself. Go for a walk (if I’d had Mad Mutt, I’d probably have walked to Timbuctoo and back). BE NICE TO YOURSELF. And throw away the crystal ball.

Relax /1

Relax /1 (Photo credit: Gianluca Neri)

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