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Perish The Thought

Posted Jun 13 2009 12:17am

    Our thoughts can take on a life of their own, can't they?  You can be going through your day, pretty much OK, and all of a sudden something sneaks up and grabs your peace of mind by the throat.  You never really saw it coming.  It was waiting in the shadows of your subconscious.  Just lurking there waiting to pounce.  It may be about something that happened hours ago.  Whatever it was may have barely registered on your mental radar at the time, but all of a sudden alarms are buzzing and psychological lights are flashing.
    What happened?  Well, my theory is that while your conscious mind is busy with tasks at hand that demand most of your attention, your subconscious mind is having a keg party.  It's intoxicating your ego with slights derived from barely nothing.  It's turning phrases that seemed innocent at the time and now it's poking you and saying, "Do you think she really meant to say....?"  The more you think about it, the more the possibility grows into a certainty.  Yes, someone almost got away with insulting you or criticizing you.  Thank goodness you realized it before it slipped away forever.  Now, you can do something about it. 
    Hold on there.  Now why would you want to go fishing for trouble?  Why assume that someone would go to the trouble of disguising their insult or criticism so well that it would take hours for you to unearth the craftily disguised slight?  If they really wanted to slam you, wouldn't they want to enjoy your reaction to it?  Why would they let you go off alone to nurture it into realization?
     I have a friend who constantly finds double meanings and deceptions in the most innocent remarks.  If you try to reassure him that you have come in peace and mean no harm, well, that's a sure sign that just the opposite is true.  I have left many an encounter with him reeling from the unexpected manipulation of the meaning of my words and stunned by the obvious distrust that must live deep inside this otherwise reasonable person.  Going back to try to rectify things is like throwing gasoline on a blaze in an attempt to douse it.  It only makes the problem more intense. 
    If you see yourself in this, what can you do?  You sure aren't making anyone's life easier or happier the way it is, including your own.  That kind of attitude in the workplace puts everyone on edge and makes getting through the day like plodding through a land mine.  There's only one thing to do .  Challenge the thoughts.  Look at them dispassionately and see if you think they really make any sense.  Most of the time, you'll start to see that something else is really bothering you and causing you to pick on someone or something else so that you don't have to face your real issues.  Once you see the situation for what it is, perish the thought.  Get rid of it and give everyone a break.  So what if you're wrong and the other person really was being diabolical?  Consider what you'll have missed out on.  Do you think you'll really lose any sleep over being cheated out of a disagreement?  Quite the opposite actually.  What do you think?  Is it worth a try? 

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