This week I found myself driving in the crowded congestion of the M6 motorway. I had a long drive ahead of me and found myself quietly fuming at the constant stopping and starting of traffic. As the minutes went by I started cursing the modern overcrowded state of our motorways. Now at that point my brain began to get tangled up in a negative snowball of thoughts. And the more it went on the more I felt annoyed and frustrated. “Why are our motorways so awful? Why are there so many more cars? Why can’t road works get done more quickly?” But, as my wife then reminded me, “Getting angry won’t make the cars move faster”.
Now I am a psychologist and I am sad to say that this doesn’t make me immune from this kind of mental nonsense. The problem is that reality often is quite at odds with how my brain wants things to be! It’s as my brain has an impossible list of demands and requirements. “Our roads should be better”, “Life should be fair”, “We have voted in the wrong government”, “People should be more respectful”. And so on. My brain absolutely hates it when life doesn’t turn out the way it wants it to turn out.
Actually, my brain is pretty normal. All brains do this. Recognising the brain’s understandable, yet impossible, demands can be helpful. Taking three, or more, slow deep breaths can be helpful. This calms things down and we can notice our mind’s chatter. It’s just a moment to pause, notice where you are and connect with the present moment. You come to your senses, literally, and can then choose to accept that “it is what it is”, (or, at least, choose your battles), and then calmly get on with your day.
For NHS funded therapy for stress, anxiety or depression, phone (01208) 871905 (between 9 and 1) or self-refer online [HERE]