By Lisa Manterfield
I’ve been spending more time than usual alone lately and it’s not good for my head. I’m beginning to talk to myself and some of those conversations aren’t good.
When I’m busy working, my brain and I get along just fine, but in the evenings, when I’m padding around the kitchen making dinner, doing dishes, or folding laundry, the conversations start.
You know the ones I mean. I pick up an issue that’s been bothering me, something someone said that stung, or some other injustice or conflict that’s gone unresolved. Then I set about solving the problem, confronting the offender, and getting into a big fight in my head. (Please tell me I’m not the only person that does this.)
Usually I gravitate towards the worst case scenario. I end up working myself into a lather over something that hasn’t happened, and may never happen.
Finally, I have to remind myself that my body can’t tell the difference between real conflict and imagined, and so it’s busy pumping all those stress hormones out into my blood stream, which isn’t doing my health any good. That’s usually enough to stop the arguments – at least for a while.
I used to do this a lot when I was busy beating myself up over infertility, trying to figure out why it happened – or more to the point, what I had done to make it happen to me. I’d think of all the choices I’d made along the way and imagine if I’d started earlier and had children with someone who wasn’t right for me, instead of waiting so long for Mr. Fab. Does any of this sound familiar?
Once you get that negative self-talk going, it’s easy to convince yourself of all kinds of things that aren’t true. And is that really going to help the healing process? Probably not. More likely it’s just going to create more stress and give you wrinkles.
So today, as you’re going about your business, listen to what you’re telling yourself. We all have plenty of real conflict in our lives; let’s not add to it by creating more in our heads.
Here’s a good article that explains more about the science of self-talk.
Thanks for this great reminder, Lisa 🙂
I always dread the winter months because I’m not has active or social, and that is not good for my head. I do so much more negative self talk during this time that I can bring myself to a very low point. The constant blaming myself for my childlessness, that I didn’t deserve to have a family, it is because I’m being punished for something I did in the past, etc…..It is somewhat comforting to know others struggles with it, and it helps me to go a little easier on myself.
YES I DO THIS. Yesterday my coworker (who has a 1 yr old) and I were discussed train delays due to bad weather and she said “women shouldn’t have to commute for so long” and my response to her was “excuse me? why can’t women commute just as long as men?” and she said “ok not women, MOTHERS. I have a baby at home.” This is a woman who knows about my infertility struggles. I imagined various ways to confront her about this ridiculous, sexist and unfair statement and was definitely getting worked up in my head about it.
Our society needs a word for prejudice towards childless people. Almost every other marginalized group in society has one (ageist, racist, sexist, homophobic, etc).
Definitely needed to hear this .. I subconsciously stress myself out so much .. because of all the frustration and time it’s taken for me to concieve .. playing all the silly comments that ignorant people make .. and just wishing I had definitely started sooner in trying to conceive in general .. i guess we live and we learn .. like you said .. no point going back .. just have to try to make the most of the present and think positive
1Definitely needed to hear this .. I subconsciously stress myself out so much .. because of all the frustration and time it’s taken for me to concieve .. playing all the silly comments that ignorant people make .. and just wishing I had definitely started sooner in trying to conceive in general .. i guess we live and we learn .. like you said .. no point going back .. just have to try to make the most of the present and think positive
All the blame for my bad choices, I’ve hidden far, far inside. I try to send understanding in there now and then when I’m reminded of what’s in there, understanding of my life as it was then and that I really could not have done anything differently.
Maybe I’ll be able to forgive myself some day. Then that space inside will be empty to fill with other, nicer, things.
But now a new way of blaming myself has occurred.
I’m just one millimeter from that famous wall, stressed out, exhausted, sad, worn, feeling worthless, tired no matter how much I sleep – or try to sleep, it’s ten to one at night here now and my heart and thoughts are racing. I’ve been trying to sleep since ten when I went to bed because I was so tired…
I should quit my job. Or at least go on sick leave for a while, but I can’t, because I’m thinking: how can I be this tired, I who don’t even have children. Other women work this hard and have children to care for too and they don’t get sick, or if they do they have more of a reason.
I just have myself to think about. The women who had this job before me had two kids and a such husband and she managed.
So I can’t. I don’t want to feel a failure at work also. I have to keep going. Not because I believe work is what defines me our the meaning of my life, but because it’s what I have. And too much time brings out the bad thoughts, so for that reason too, I need to keep working.
Oh my gosh yessss!!! I too am spending more time on my own during the day, in the middle of winter. ugh. The worst part is that I not only blame myself but also manage to blame my poor husband. I can get myself so worked up (in my head) because he has 2 girls from a previous marriage and I can convince myself that he just does not get what I’m going through because he is already a dad. I also get jealous of his ex-wife…jealous that they get to have conversations that he and I will never have.
I can so relate to this. Being alone allows me to start thinking negatively . I find insensitive family and friends often trigger my negativity and I only wish I had the words to reply to them to be able to stick up for myself. I need to learn to speak to myself more positively.
OMG, me too, Debbie, me too!! I especially wish I had the words to respond to insensitive people…. this has often been an issue in my family; I know I need to let it go but it is so hard. They are not going to change, I understand that, but for now the only way of coping with it for me is to avoid them. Sometimes I think that is ‘OK’ but other times it really gets to me. Thank you for posting.