Saturday, November 20, 2010

Control your crazy

Madhouse_Runaway_by_himbeerkuss_large {image}

So, last night I went out to celebrate with my very good, long time friend. We’ll call her Cassandra Dean. The celebration is that she is (contracted to be) a published author. Huzzah! There were cocktails, a beer garden, $10 pub fare and lots and lots of D&Ms. As the night wore on and the throng of Cassandra’s followers died away it was left to just the two of us. I, sober. Cassandra, merry on a couple of Mad Men inspired beverages.

We got to talking about our worries and both of us have some issues at the moment, as most people do. Mine are mostly teeny tiny worries that I have built up, and up, and up until they’re keeping me up at night. I confessed my concerns and Cassandra was quite the zen master.

To elaborate, I have a very bad habit of putting thoughts into people’s heads. These thoughts that I imagine other people are having then give me great worry and concern, and change the way I think and behave.  I have a very simple example, which is not representative of my bigger worries, but is something that I would, and have, totally over-thought in the past. Case in point:

I have a very lovely Mother in Law. In all sincerity, one of the easiest people to get along with, and a very generous, caring person. However, I am crazy. So recently, when said MIL was coming over to look after Pebble while I went out, I thought “it would be great if she could come an hour earlier, to make it easier for me to get ready”. After much deliberation I called her, and this is what I said:

Hi, how are you? How’s your day going? (general chatter). So, I’ll see you later on? What time are you coming over? Oh, 5pm as agreed. No worries. (in a hurried breath of air) You’re-always-welcome-to-come-earlier-if-you-like. Oh, ok, we’ll see you at 5pm then.

Then I proceed to have many over-lapping thoughts:

    • MIL is probably thinking: what a crazy woman, what was that about?
    • why didn’t I ask her to come over? She’d probably say yes because I asked, but I don’t want her to feel obligated.
    • MIL is probably thinking: I’d love to come earlier and see my grandchild, but I don’t want to get in the way.
    • maybe I should ring her back and ask her properly.
    • no, I’ll be imposing.
    • no, she’ll love it.
    • no, she’ll think I’m crazy for all the phone calls.

Meanwhile I carry on getting ready with a clingy baby-toddler (seriously, this 10 month old is not a baby) pulling at my jeans and drooling on my shoulder, and driving myself bat-shit crazy with imaginary conversations and scenarios.

The problem is that I do this all the time. Which brings me to zen master Cassandra’s words of wisdom:

    • My thoughts, feeling, opinions and needs are as valid as anyone else’s.
    • I can’t control what other people do or think.

What I needed to do, to be fair to both myself and my MIL, in that scenario is say:

Hi, how are you? If it’s not too much trouble could you please come an hour earlier to look after Pebble while I get ready to go out?

She might say yes. She might say no. I’m not in control of that decision, or why that decision is made. I can only state what I think, feel or need, and allow the other person to communicate their thoughts, feelings and needs to me.

Huh. Who’d have thunk it?

To the rest of the world this may, or may not, seem like a very simple thing to achieve. However it took me about two hours of conversation for my brain to be able to comprehend this whole “say what you mean” business. My brain just kept saying:

  • what if I’m imposing?
  • what if I upset someone?
  • what if other people don’t want what I want?
  • what if they think …..?

You know what? What if?! I CAN’T CONTROL OTHER PEOPLE. There is no sense in worrying about something that hasn’t happened. It’s not fair to impose my imaginary thoughts and scenarios on other people. I need to give people the opportunity to have their own response, and then go from there. Not have conversations with them without their knowledge and then take action based on those fictitious conversations.

So, I’m going to attempt to control my crazy. It’s kind of bending my brain inside out to imagine living in this new frame of mind, but I’m going to give it a go.

What about you? Are you an over-thinker? How do you control your crazy?



  1. I am, and always have been, a chronic over-thinker. Thats what helped me down into depression in the first place - imagining scenarios for myself and then acting on what may happen, not living the scenario and acting within it. I've had a lot of behavioural therapy to help change the way i think and though i am a million times better than i was, i still have an over-active imagination... its just that now i can imagine as many different " what ifs? " as i like but i try to not act on them...

  2. Oh wow, I am super touched our discussion has made it to your blog!
    Seriously, though, this concept that you can't control other people and you don't, in fact, know what they are thinking is such a difficult one to grasp. It took me years and years and my kneejerk reaction *still* is to prescribe imaginary reactions.
    I think now it's mostly a matter of *knowing* I do this and actively working to correct it. Eventually, it gets easier but it never truly goes away. So, there's something for you to look forward to! ;p
    Anyhoo, am glad I was able to help *big hugs*
    ps, btw totally shameless plug!

  3. I have imagined my own and other peoples deaths/ funerals/ disfigurements etc. , and CRIED as I did so! What a waste of time, effort and tears! I have worried so much about what other people thought that I forgot how to be myself. In my younger years I tried so hard to be someone that would please everyone else, I forgot how to please myself. It does take time and effort to live in the moment and not in a fantasy world. Good luck XXX

  4. holy moly!!!! Hon - i'm glad you are going to make an effort to allow people to provide a response. It sounds to me that you do a whole lot of worrying over something that may never happen. No you can't control people, but if you don't ask, how will you know what they are thinking? I'm sure you are spot on with your MIL. If you'd only asked she would've been there at midday!!!!



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