Monday, May 16, 2011

Oh SNAP panic attack!

Good Afternoon. ^_-

So, I have a tendency to reflect on conversations unintentionally for hours, days, weeks, months, and even years after they occur. I'm not really sure why. Some people have advised me to merely "shut off my brain" or "stop thinking" but it's not that simple. A person, especially me, can't just turn off their brain as though there is an 'on/off' switch. Bits and pieces of conversations always comeback to me. I may forget your name, but many conversations replay in my head, despite my lack of memory in regards to the person I am speaking to. But anyway, it is not something I can just get rid of.

The other day my dad was telling me that in his culture growing up, people used to burn their old journals to symbolize a new start. That with blogs, it is not as easy to give up on the past and start a new beginning with all these emotions still percolating in your brain. That well, people are unlikely to 'delete' all their old posts (or disable their old accounts). As much as I think that burning old journals is a wicked way to start a new phase in life, it is not really probable for me... Unless I suddenly get amnesia.

Anyway, so I was having a conversation with someone today. We exchanged some words and our argument escalated. It escalated quickly and ended quickly, but escalated nonetheless. This conversation was not a new one. It was one that has been lurking in my mind, snippets from other conversations in the past; Like they snowball into one moment and suddenly disperse. Anyway, I organize things in my head thematically, so it doesn't matter who the person is, it is the issue/topic itself that triggers emotions for me.

Basically, I realized something after my conversation this morning... well, in comparison to past conversations as well. People don't do the same thing. People don't think the same way. People don't remember conversations. In fact, people rarely think about the conversations after the day's end or maybe the week's end. I know it sounds silly to not realize that previously, because I knew this, I just didn't realize it. I don't think I bottle up emotions, but I do think that I have a reserve that I tap into sometimes. Today, is one of those days... When the reserve is overflowing, and on such days I avoid conversation. I avoid confrontation. I avoid speaking at large. I avoid it, because I know that whatever I say will escalate and I'd rather not save that argument unintentionally in my mind. This is not something people need to take personally, it's a human flaw that I have. I need to learn how to deal with it.

So, basically... What am I saying here?

For most people, they'll just assume that I'm temporarily 'moody'. I allow that assumption to hold. But really, I am overflowing with thoughts... I am thinking so much about so many things, that I avoid people till my thoughts settle. Sometimes it's a five minute break other times it may be a day. Otherwise, my thoughts are like boiling water, burning hot, bubbles popping, somewhat impetuous, and can only be tempered with a bit of time.

Why am I posting this? Well, for me, blogging allows some of those thoughts to settle a bit more quickly.
But really, Why am I posting this? Well, because although I know I can't stop thinking, I am hoping that someone out there has some constructive advice on how to deal with 'overflowing thoughts'. As well is, how to filter out some of those conversations that really don't need to stay in my brain, but end up there for years. I mean, I have conversations from when I was in summer camp in 1998 playing in my brain and trust me, that period of my life is done and over with. I have a couple from kindergarten even! And they just randomly play in my head... and I sit there and think and think and think about them. Constantly asking myself: What does this mean to me now? Why am I thinking about this? Is it wrong to think about this? Am I psychoanalyzing myself? Then I go on a cost-benefit analysis of self-reflection.... and this will all be going on, while I'm in mid conversation with one of you about, I don't know, say the revolutionary war or something. So, this internal frustration with lack of answers will lead to an aggressiveness in our revolutionary war conversation, and viola --> we escalate into an argument, that really was not supposed to happen.

So, again... why am I posting this?
A) Advice please! on de-cluttering the mind!
B) Forgive me if I ever pushed you into an argument without meaning to.
C) If I need a moment to 'breathe', please it'll just be better for the both of us if you let me take it.
D) I will think about our conversations long after you've forgotten about them, so.... just think about that for a bit.

I guess that's all I really wanted to say.


Dima sallat said...

I can totally relate to this! and I really do wish their was a on/off switch for our mind. I remember the things I don't really want to remember and no matter how much I try they tend to stick in my head.

I ignore people too at times, but sometimes for me talking to people makes me forget all the thoughts that wouldn't leave me before.

Your not the only one and well I hope we both figure out how to cope with it inshaAllah.

Jamali said...

You're always talking about your blog, so I decided to read it today. And I'm glad I did because this is an interesting post.

1) I noticed this about you. Not right away, but I think in the last few months. I can see you analyzing things in your head as a conversation is going on instead of participating it. And when you do contribute to the conversation, it's often a memory you have of a similar situation. So I guess it's just the lens through which you look at life.

2) If you really don't want to think so much, I'd suggest breathing techniques. Have you ever taken a yoga class? Well, in yoga they teach the technique of inhaling continuously (in one step) until it's almost painful and you can't fill your lungs any more. And then exhaling in the same way, pushing as much air as you possibly can out of your lungs. It feels ridiculous sometimes, but it might help.

Esma Y said...

Nicely worded.

Isn't it normal for past thoughts and emotions to snowball? I realized that when I get angry, I don't just get angry at the person who annoyed me. His/her provocation flamed related moments of anger in the past. Your situation is different because you're blessed in storing and retrieving information, so you have to do more to keep what matters. Realizing what triggered the outpour of past emotions and thoughts helps. Example, "This woman seems annoying, although I barely know her. She does sound like my annoying classmate from 8th grade."

We store emotions and thoughts because they are valuable and necessary. Your body and heart needs to remember what felt good and what hurt in order to seek or avoid it.

How to sift through it?

In conversation, trying to understand or really tuning in the other person helps, so instead of focusing on the thoughts and emotions rising in you, you work to understand what the other person is saying and why, and then you respond accordingly. Going off topic can be taken as a sign of moodiness, which is what you might do since you have so many other thoughts that came up.

Burning journals or shutting down blogs won't always help. If it's in your head, it's in your head (although avoiding exposure helps a bit).

ASH said...

You remind me about myself when I was in your age.

When I joined my latest work in the company I am still working with, that was in 1999, things started to take different route in my personality. My boss affected in me very much. I admit that he learnt me a lot and made me better person. I can summarize his advises to me in the following:

1. Listen carefully to people. Don't ignore what they say even if it bull sh**. Understand their requirements.
2. Don't speak if you if you know that what you say will not bring any result or change. This is like talking to Math teacher that you missed some Histroy classes. You should talk to the History teacher.
3. Don't lie whatever if you were asked. However do not tell everything if no one asked you.
4. Don't answer immediately if you are not prepared. Say: I will revert to you soon. Prepare your answer in the way you like and take your time. And always reserve the right to answer.
5. Win/Win is good strategy of discussion or negotiations. There can be no winner and loser.
6. If you want to hit, wait the accurate moment and hit strongly. If you decided to forgive, forget immediately.
7. The most important thing that I add from my life experience (not from my boss): Ask yourself always: Why am I doing this or saying this? If you are showing off to impress some one or doing it for cheap benefit in life, don't do it or say it. The target should be always: Allah satisfaction. This is the ultimate.
For instance I am now giving the advice you requested wishing God will add it to my hasanat credit.

Few advises shaped my life, and my current personality.I may have missed some other advises but these above are very clear in my mind. Hope you can benefit of them.

Little Auntie said...

Asalamu aliakum,
Found you through Symphonic Discord :) I actually have a bit of the same problem. It's not too bad, but I still have memories of conversations also from when I was in kindergarten.

My only little advice is that - it's something you said that was stupid, you have to just forgive yourself and understand that you are not the same person you were then.....You have grown.

Even if it was one day ago/ one hour ago. We change as each minute passes.

And if it's something that someone said that was 'rude/hurtful/stupid', you have to realize that still thinking about them, you are still giving them power.

Esma wrote some great advice, ma'shaAllah =)

supreem said...

I guess it seems that some of you assume that it's conversations that stay are due to me being embarrassed/emotional. It's not. I can be thinking of the most mundane thing, completely irrelevant, but it was a conversation, nonetheless. For example, I was at the gym for the last hour, and while there I was thinking about a conversation I had in Middle School about the merits of layering clothing.... seriously? Anyway, I appreciate the advice! This is pretty great!!! THANKS!