I’m extremely negative. Let me explain.
I’m negative in that I assume the worst of any situation. I assume people do not like me. I assume I’m doing a terrible job. I assume my relationships will end. I assume I’m going to get sick. I assume any happiness I have will come crashing down and soon. Somewhere along the way, as I was occupied with various traumatic experiences, I convinced myself that if this was how life would treat me, I should expect nothing different. So, I set myself up to be pleasantly surprised. “Oh, man! I just assumed this experience would be awful. HOW LOVELY. It turned out to be OK.”
It’s fucked up. I know. There are so many interpretations of this mindset. I set myself up to be disappointed because I’m already thinking negatively. I am dwelling on my traumatic past. I’m making it impossible to enjoy life. I’m spending time making myself anxious for something that may never come to fruition (wasted time).
I know this is a problem and I am trying to work on it. However, it’s hard to know where to start. I know somebody who did a challenge for some arbitrary amount of days to refrain from complaining with the belief that complaining sets you up to be a miserable human being. I think about this sometimes, but I wake up complaining. I wake up seeing fault in the world, others, and most of all, myself. How do you stop this with out cultivating more self-esteem?
I talked about self-loathing in my last post. I spent the past day or so thinking about where that comes from. I think, like most phenomenons it is a combination of factors, namely, my hyper-critical upbringing, the media I was exposed to as a young girl, commentary I’ve heard all my life about my value and appearance, underlying mental illness, lack of strong and secure role models, sexual assault, and unstable romantic relationships. That’s a lot to unpack. Some of it deals with self-awareness while a lot of it deals with letting go of past trauma.
There are various theories on how to let go of past traumas. There’s the opposite and equal reaction: giving of yourself to others. There’s openness, specifically talking about it and advocating for healing despite it. There is EMDR therapy. There’s talk therapy. There’s having experiences that give you evidence to the contrary. There’s small, daily efforts done by the survivor to, over time, rebuild something new (I don’t believe you can regain exactly what you had before the trauma). I’ve dabbled in a lot of these efforts over the years, but I feel like I keep being re-traumatized. A lot of people, quick to judge, would see this as my choice. I don’t choose this. It happens like lightening. I hardly have time to react.
I sit in a bar, sipping a cider. Everything is fine. I’m talking to my boyfriend. We are chatting about loved ones in my life and struggles they face. All of a sudden, I am acutely aware there are men and women on either side of us loudly ordering. Somebody elbows me in the back. I think it’s a woman. Another person brushes against my sweater. The bartender is standing right across from me and she’s not talking to me, but everything I say or do is going to be noticed by her because of positioning. I can’t hear myself think. I can’t focus on my conversation. I can’t tune it out. I can’t help but feel surrounded. I don’t feel safe. Like that, my boyfriend perceives this change in my behavior as I am upset with him and he starts asking me to talk to him and tell him why I’m upset. I am no longer sipping on cider and enjoying the conversation. I am now paralyzed and searching inside my head for ways to escape. I’m angry. I’m angry I am having this reaction to something so mundane. We leave. Of course we leave. I have to make my escape to feel more comfortable. This stimuli is not just an annoyance. It’s painful.
What is this? Is it, like some theorists posit a fight or flight response in absence of any real threat. Is it PTSD? Is it anxiety? Is it agoraphobia? Am I losing it? Am I this weak? What is wrong with me?
I am browsing through Facebook, images of cats, videos of cuddly donkeys flash by. There’s pictures of people doing what they love to do flying past. Then, I see it. It’s an article posted by somebody I know is conservative. It’s from a conservative website. It’s an article explaining some PEW Research Center statistics and interpreting them to say that Hillary Clinton supporters are less tolerant than Donald Trump supporters. My heart starts pounding. I’m offended and upset by this. First of all, it’s a complete bastardization of the statistics (the actual research looked at how supporters of each candidate viewed each other, not other demographics such as race, religion, etc.). It’s frustrating because it’s somebody I’d like to find common ground with, but there’s this immediate judgment I have a hard time getting past and it’s a silent judgment. It’s a judgment with an audience without a face. I am a democrat. I do my best to seek to understand other people. I try to be gentle in my approaches to discourse. The country is inarguably devolving into a divided populous, interested in who can make the most biting, insensitive critique of somebody they do not agree with. It’s hard to not feel negative when this is the atmosphere during an impending election. It is the atmosphere of any comments page of any article.
I don’t know how to block it out. It’s so much easier to notice the negative. It feels like a flood versus the trickle of positivity. I’m committed to changing my mentality. I cannot change the world and I cannot carry the weight of it on my shoulders. I believe in having plans. Something tangible with which you can confront the difficult parts of existence. I am mulling over a plan and will hopefully have more to discuss in the coming days.