I tend to engage in catastrophic thinking.
Andrew makes fun of me for it. A day or two after an incident where I catastrophize, he does a dramatic impression of me, putting his hand to his forehead and falling onto the bed ‘woe-is-me’ style.
It makes me laugh.
In a recent incident, I was having trouble thinking because I was recovering from my kooky sleep experiment. I thought that I had permanently damaged my brain and would suffer reduced cognitive abilities forever. I thought I was going to have to stop being a software engineer because I’d never be able to solve a complex problem.
This kind of thinking is ridiculous, of course.
And there’s a tiny rationalist voice in my head that tells me so.
But there’s also a part of me that believes me.
I journaled about how I was feeling. At the end I wrote, “I wish I could just pause my work for 3 weeks to recover.”
Luckily, Andrew walked in, and he wasn’t angsty.
(We have a rule about this. If one of us is angsty, the other isn’t. If one of us is grumpy, the other isn’t. It’s less a rule and more a physical property of the universe, that our subconciousnesses know to obey).
I told him how I was feeling and he said, “it sounds like you shouldn’t work today.”
And he was right. It turned out, I didn’t need 3 weeks off. I just needed one day. I napped and read and noodled around. In the evening, I ate scallops with my housemates, and we jammed together.
By morning I felt good as new.
This is a lesson that Catastrophizing Priya has to learn over and over, even though Rationalist Priya always remembers:
Moods are temporary and can change a lot faster than you imagine. Just take a guess at what you need (in my case, I needed a break and a good night’s sleep), and then give it to yourself.
And then see what happens…