Monday, May 30, 2011

Stress Less—Monday's Technique for the Week

It's Memorial Day which leads me to think about remembering.  Although memories of pleasant experiences and people, occasions and trips, meals and conversations become a very upbeat part of our inner life and outer interactions, revisiting "bad" memories usually causes stress. Internal or external conversations about difficult, hostile, or just plain ugly interactions or experiences — whether we caused the YUK or someone else did, keeps us stuck.

I acknowledge I have trouble letting go of this kind of rehash of past events, but I'm making progress. Generally, problem-solving thinking doesn't fit because the event was in the past and I can't undo it. I usually have no control over what already took place. Sometimes, if the event was in the recent past, I can problem-solve about how to move forward with the "bad" interaction. But generally, I find that the "bad" interaction is a done deal. I don't find a benefit for revisiting it — regardless of who seems to be accountable for the YUK.

That takes me to letting go of the memory so I can let go of the stress. I'm working to develop a new habit, which really has to do with strategic allocation of attention.  As soon as the ugly memory appears in my mind, sometimes in the middle of the night, I immediately erase the mind picture, turn down the volume of the voice, and move to another topic — a neutral one. E.g. the weather, a new friend, a fun project, an upcoming trip.  Or I watch the geese and their babies in the water for a few minutes. Or take a quick walk around the building. Anything to get my mind off the YUK as quickly as possible. The more I practice, the fewer rehash sessions I have with myself or others.

Occasionally I find that it helps to just vent and rehash once with a reliable, open, unbiased person who will just listen and not give unsolicited advice! That process also helps me bring closure to the whole inner rehash. I'd be happy to be that listening, reading person for you if you just want to vent to me about something that's keeping you stuck.
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