Dec 28, 2020

Thought rabbit-hole

 Have you ever been inside a thought rabbit-hole? Let me explain how it unfolds.

You feel hurt by a situation or by someone. Or you feel angry about a situation or someone. But you couldn't do anything about it.

You feel frustrated, helpless, and want to vent out.

Sometimes, there might be people available to listen to your ramblings. Sometimes, the ramblings just loop through in your head.

As these ramblings happen in your mind, the mind takes you through the thought rabbit-hole - it opens up a box of thoughts related to that person - past incidents, past snide remarks, etc. 

Yes, all negative, unpleasant thoughts are the first to be encountered by default.

As you pass through this rabbit-hole, you feel even more frustrated, you end up indulging in self-pity. 

After you have had your fill, you might try to distract your mind off with the usual suspects - social media, binge-watching, eating sugary foods, etc.

Meanwhile, the rabbit-hole gets well established with the present situation also added to the box of thoughts.

I have been into such thought rabbit-holes multiple times. And I have come to realize that it isn't helping ME in any way.

Over the past few months, I started following a 5-step ritual that is helping me quite a bit.

(1) Be aware of your thoughts. Be a silent observer - like a fly-in-the-wall,  watch over your thoughts. It may not be possible always but at least during the times when you are alone.

(2) Be aware of the fact that you are stepping into a rabbit-hole. The moment I find myself being caught in a certain thought pattern, I tell myself, "vendaam Anu, adhukkule pogadhey" ("don't go into it, Anu")

(3) Vent out your frustrations either on paper or a digital notepad and trash it immediately. Or try talking it out aloud inside a room. Somehow, the tangible word (both written and spoken) gives me such a relief rather than brewing in my thoughts.

(4) After you have calmed down a bit (without going inside the rabbit-hole), ask yourself why you felt this way about a situation. Inability to let go of certain values of mine, inability to let go of my control seeking nature, having wrong expectations from others - these were some of the reasons that unraveled when I asked myself. The purpose of this step is to gain this awareness, not to judge or feel bad about feeling this way. 

(5) After you have gained awareness, do something that makes you calm and happy. I prefer to either go for a walk, take a few deep breaths, listen to an ARR track, or lie down for a few minutes. These are not distractions in this context, but they provide a peaceful closure to the emotional rollercoaster.

As you become more and more aware of your thoughts, you will be able to catch yourself when you are about to step into a thought rabbit-hole. Through questioning, you will be able to gather all the reasons and you will be able to spot a few of them that are repeating. Years of conditioning, your beliefs, and values - those are the ones causing such feelings.

Try out this ritual the next time you feel upset or frustrated about something. Do share with me if you found this ritual helpful.

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