the girl with more problems than dollars

Everyone has their issues. Some we can accept and admit to freely, others we try our very hardest to deny.

At times we feel guilty over these problems (the usual starving children in Africa guilt trip), but really why should you feel guilty over things that you struggle with? Sure, your shopping addiction may seem trivial when a child is struggling to stay alive, but that doesn’t change how real and painful it is for you. All it does is increase the negative set of emotions you experience by adding guilt and shame to the mix.

There’s a quote from The Perks of Being A Wallflower which captures this perfectly:

“even if somebody else has it much worse, that doesn’t really change the fact that you have what you have.”

But then there are the times when you feel that your battles are all that you are. Which is kind of how I feel now – defined by the issues I struggle with daily. Right now it seems they are everywhere I turn, and I am blinded by them. It feels like my whole identity is composed of all my problems stitched together.

I know on a rational level that this isn’t true – humans are far more complex than that. We are made up of cells, hopes, dreams, literature, art, passions, love, friendships, hobbies and so much more. But at times like this when I am drowning in my sorrows, it feels like the first parts of me to surrender were the other identifying characteristics. My conversations all run around the same topics, my thoughts swoop like vultures over the carcass left behind when I’m exhausted from fighting with them. Of course, there are techniques of dealing with them which do not involve fighting or avoiding them, but sometimes they are hard to put into practise.

I speak, of course, of mindfulness. Psychology is in love with this tactic right now, and indeed we are being told that regardless of our situation we should set aside a few minutes for this exercise each day. But when your thoughts are flickering through your head so fast you can’t even grab on, how are you supposed to just let them pass you by without leaving an impact? The same ideas thud, thud, thud at the inside of my head, and, like my high school English teacher always said, repetitively “beat in the message”. You can’t get away from something that is being screamed at you over and over throughout the day.

But I suppose that is why it is so important to practise mindfulness – so you can learn to filter out the white noise of these nagging thoughts, the same way you do the chirping of the birds in the morning or the radio playing in your car.

And maybe then we won’t have to own up to all our problems to people, because they will cease to be such major dramas in our lives. Because this sure isn’t something I want to identify as.

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