The Need to Simplify

Image courtesy of Stockvault.

Image courtesy of Stockvault.

Ever since being upped on my anti-anxiety dosage, I’ve developed this feeling like I’m watching myself spin out of control on things. I can see it in some of my previous posts, where I pick a bunch of topics that start out fine and then turn into miniature rants. In my normal day-to-day dealings with people, I don’t do any of that. It’s when I’m by myself that this happens. Contemplating little things is where I start, and then I just work them into bigger messes.

This is an inability to control my thoughts.
It’s more than just my attention span or trying to stay on task with writing that book of mine I still haven’t finished. There are other things I need to do in a given day, and all of those things seem to be piling up. some of them are, mostly because when I think of a few things I need to do, it ends up becoming about the many things I need to do.

There’s a theme to this. Nothing can ever be simple with me. I can’t just have a conversation with someone. It has to be replayed later in my mind so I can explore other avenues I didn’t pursue. I can’t just watch a show or read a book and enjoy what’s going on. It has to be dwelt upon in context with other similar stories, categorized an analyzed. I can’t just read a small article. It has to have its citations checked and other thoughts explored until I have 20 tabs open in my web browser.

What really got me looking at it, strangely enough, was watching how my cats have gotten bored with some of their toys. They still drag stuff to my door and then forget about it, but when I play with their favorite strings, they don’t get as enthusiastic as they used to be. Fairly quickly, they’re looking for other stuff to do. Sure enough, they find simple things that can move when struck, and then they’re all over that for an hour. In many ways, I’m just doing the same thing.

I don’t know why it happens, but that doesn’t matter as much now.
To be completely honest with myself, I’ve done this most of my life. My brain has always worked this way. For the longest time, I’ve felt really bad about it. At times it would show itself in the weirdest ways, like skipping ahead in conversations, or seemingly being distracted by irrelevant details. On a few occasions it can explain how I can engage in self-destructive behavior without fully realizing it. I’ve always searched for an explanation for this in the hopes that I could stop it from happening, because normal people don’t do this.

Sure, I could try to find more definitions and labels of things to complicate matters and explore indefinitely. Maybe there’s a theory or a postulation of something out there that might explain a particular facet of my behavior. In that search – which has gone on for many years now – I’ve found a lot of things that sound nice but don’t really work.

Lately, I’ve developed this belated habit of just checking myself. At that moment, I become aware that I’m doing it again. Instead of getting angry or frustrated with myself, I just settle down and try to simplify things. No, not in a complex manner of meditation or learning to focus my thinking. Rather, it’s like I just start to quietly go into a more relaxed state. Naturally there are times when it doesn’t work as well as I’d like, but it has been affording me the opportunity to ask myself, “So what?”

That’s actually a great question for dealing with my anxiety. It reminds me that a thought can wait, that judgment is something that should occur later rather than sooner. And it kind of helps me interrupt the cycle of going from anxious thinking to depressed mood.