Austin in the latest podcast pointed out how he would think about a situation in his mind and think of it as the worst thing possible but after a bit he would then talk or write about it with a proper frame of mind to make a point or get a stronger hold of the situation. I use this technique myself when figuring out how to get through difficult events or problem solving and it interesting that I wasn’t the only one. So does anyone else do this, overblown certain things in your head?
Mostly when I’m working on my budget. I tend to say all my upcoming expenses are $100 more expensive when I’m budgeting stuff out so when I have more money than I thought, it’s a pleasant surprise.
I tend to overblow how people perceive my opinions on things. It causes me to assume that because I’m not as far to the left as a lot of my friends are, that they somehow view me as an idiot. Or, because I disagree with them about something, that I’ve grievously offended them.
It’s a difficult voice to quiet. Sometimes I quiet it by changing the subject like y’all have mentioned. Other times I confront it by asking the person, and then reminding myself to believe them when they inevitably tell me “…uh, no? I’m not mad at you?”
I’ve done this all my life. It generally always comes out to me assuming the worst possible outcome as well. I’m not a psychologist, but I am almost certain this habit goes hand in hand with depression and/or anxiety disorders. It’s basically rumination but about a possible event instead of the symptoms of your disorder.
I blow things out of proportion a lot. Especially with social media. Like I often don’t tweet what I feel or if I’m DMing someone I’ll think way too hard about what I want to say because I’m afraid that any little thing might cause them to dislike me or not want to talk to me again. And I’m sure that that’s not the case, but just telling myself that doesn’t make it any easier.
I’m not sure Austin’s method would work for me. Although it’d be worth a shot.
I’ve used to have this problem. I’m a naturally anxious person and would drive myself up the wall with just who I am as a person in public and such. I’ve gotten much better about it thanks to some substances and thankfully don’t have this problem nearly as bad as I used to.
I think the formal term for this is “catastrophizing,” and it’s something I deal with as a part of general anxiety disorder. It sounds like the coping method is a kind of cognitive behavioral therapy.
The way I learned it, you would write down the negative thought (“I said a stupid thing and everyone thought I was the biggest idiot on earth”), identify any cognitive distortions in it (“It was not an especially dumb comment, I’m not a mind reader, I don’t know what everyone else thought”), and then write an alternative interpretation (“I said something mildly embarrassing, and then everyone moved on with their day”).
There’s a free app called Thought Diary that kind of guides you through the process if it sounds like something that would help.
A typical example from my head:
How it plays in my head;
Scene: Late November
Me: Hey mom, we’re spending Christmas at the in-laws this year.
Mom: You’re a horrible, ungrateful son who doesn’t love his mother.
Result: Hem and haw and respond indecisively if asked. Who knows, maybe this year my wife will get in a big fight with her parents and decide we aren’t going. Or hey, my parents just got an RV, maybe they’ll decide to spend Chirstmas with their RV friends. Yeah, that is definitely a thing that could happen.
What actually happens;
Scene: Mid-December, after hemming and hawwing for weeks.
Me: Hey mom, we’re spending Christmas at the in-laws this year.
Mom: Ok. We’ll miss you, but we’ll see you whenever you can.
I have Autism. This is literally my life.
Example: It is, as I have been told, okay to like problematic things, so long as you recognize what is problematic about them and keep that in consideration when you enjoy the work, and there are things you like about it that aren’t (as) problematic.
Except here’s how my brain has been going since I have ended up stumbling into social justice issues -
- $Work is Problematic
- This problematic thing perpetuates concepts, themes, and depictions that are used to spread hate, injustice, inequality in the world right now - either in ways that are major (actively bigoted stereotypes), minor (exotism), and points in between (whitewashing, cultural appropriation)
- By supporting this work by consuming it, I am supporting those themes, either with my dollars or with statistical metrics (copies checked out from the library, seeders/leechers on a torrent site, etc.)
- Thus, I am actively making the world a shittier place.
This train of thought is aggravated by the fact that my mother was a Girl Scout, and she drummed into me the idea of leaving your campsite a better place than how you found it, which in turn lead me mentally blowing that out of proportion into “I have to leave the world a better place than I came into it.” Top that off with autism related social anxiety and sensory overload issues that make it very hard to take part in protest marches and this can lead to me sitting in my room or the bathroom in a deeply depressed state, thinking about how all the works I’ve enjoyed have made the world worse, and trying to logic myself out of… permanent self harm.
That isn’t an exaggeration. Nor is it a joke.
Obviously, as I am able to type this, I was successfully able to logic myself out of that situation.
That said, something happens where a work that was deeply important to me and which ended up shaping my life in some form or another ends up getting revealed to be deeply problematic or having been created or co-created by a bad person, and I start going down this path again.
This is also aggravated by the fact that my autism has me taking the expression “Check your privilege” perhaps a little too literally - not just in terms of the concept of “checking” your privilege in terms of reflecting on how my privilege colors my view on an issue before talking about it, but also in terms of seeking to put a “check” on my privilege - to limit and mitigate it to prevent myself by doing harm through my privilege. This primarily takes the form of not taking mental health breaks when it comes to social justice issues to keep myself from being driven into a depressive state, with the mindset that people who are facing these issues firsthand don’t have the luxury of stepping away from the issue the same way that I (as a cis-het-white-male) can.
I have to actively remind myself that I cannot be a good ally if I put myself in a non-functional depressive state (which itself takes a lot of effort).