I really pissed myself off today. I responded to someone in a way that I didn’t want to and as a consequence it resulted in further ways to be annoyed with myself. It was a minor thing, really minor, but when anxiety and low self-esteem accumulate years of dictating how I respond to some situations, it’s really difficult to catch myself before I do the thing I don’t want to do.
I was listening to an interview with Stoic philosopher Piotr Stankiewicz earlier this week talking about narratives, the stories we tell ourselves. It got me thinking about, or perhaps a better way of putting it is observing, the stories I tell myself. Realising how instantaneously the negative inner voice responds to events. It’s straight in there, even over the very minor things, chipping away. Colin Walker talks about ‘negative feedback loops, plummeting into downward spirals.’ I can relate to this. If the stories I tell myself get the better of me I can find the hours, days and sometimes weeks get eaten up by a barrage of what I can only describe as psychological self-harm.
The thought of trying to rewrite those habits is daunting. And yet spotting them is part of the battle. I’ve certainly found with other aspects of mental illness that having an awareness of what’s happening goes a long way to reducing the effect of them. That moment of ‘Aha, I know you and what you do’ helps to mitigate their potency.
I did spot them today. Yes, my response to the situation pissed me off, but I was also able to recognise a little of what was going on. And it was probably listening to that interview that reminded me about those pesky narratives.