Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Drunken Monkeys and the Carpool Lane

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 peace.

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 silent.

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.


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