I've been heading to a bad place lately, a really bad place. It seems like everything is going wrong and every solution is a failure. I find myself thinking, one more straw and I'm done for. And in the middle of this meltdown sneaks the idea of drowning it all, just for a while.
Sound familiar? We've all been there. The negativities keep piling up
until the only chatter in our head is about how horrible and hopeless
our situation is. We are teetering on the edge, and the idea of falling
back on our old solutions starts to glimmer like a last hope.
The non-stop mental chatter which arises when we start to feel stressed
and stuck has been called the monkey mind. Our thoughts bounce from one
negative to another, growing more frenetic and confusing until we feel
exhausted just trying to keep up. We'll do anything for a moments
Although alcohol may seem to offer that distraction, it is important to
realize the reality that drinking creates. When we try to drown the
running dialog in our head, we don't end up with peace and quiet; we end
up with a mind full of drunken monkeys.
So what do we do when it feels like the walls are closing in? It can
help to change how we look at the thoughts running through our head.
Instead of picturing monkeys running amok, imagine your thoughts as
unruly children in a carpool.
If you have ever participated in the particular joy that is sharing the
transportation of children, you know what it's like to have a car full
of bouncing, jabbering kids. If not, tune into any show on Disney for
ten minutes, and you'll get the idea.
How does this shift in our perception help? When we are at our wits end,
all of our thoughts seem to jumble together in one big pile. We don't
know where to start untangling the mish-mash and not knowing only adds
to the frustration. By visualizing those same thoughts as individuals,
we give ourselves the opening to gain control.
Which of your issues is the loudest, most obnoxious child in the
carpool? That's the one to drop off first; do what you can to solve the
problem and then let it go for a while. Turn to the second most
irritating, and the third, and so on until your car is peacefully
You may not have solved all the problems facing you, but you likely have
taken care of a few of them. Giving yourself a respite from the noise
allows you to breathe, regroup, and reenergize. Most importantly, you
have remained sober.
Negative thoughts destroy only myself. Don't let the drunken monkeys
back into your life; the carpool lane may be noisy, but with sobriety
there is no doubt you are in control.