Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

What’s Going on in Your Head? January 27, 2012

I’ve been spending more time than usual alone lately and it’s not good for my head. I’m beginning to talk to myself and some of those conversations aren’t good.

When I’m busy working, my brain and I get along just fine, but in the evenings, when I’m padding around the kitchen making dinner, doing dishes, or folding laundry, the conversations start.

You know the ones I mean. I pick up an issue that’s been bothering me, something someone said that stung, or some other injustice or conflict that’s gone unresolved. Then I set about solving the problem, confronting the offender, and getting into a big fight in my head. (Please tell me I’m not the only person that does this.)

Usually I gravitate towards the worst case scenario. I end up working myself into a lather over something that hasn’t happened, and may never happen.

Finally, I have to remind myself that my body can’t tell the difference between real conflict and imagined, and so it’s busy pumping all those stress hormones out into my blood stream, which isn’t doing my health any good. That’s usually enough to stop the arguments – at least for a while.

I used to do this a lot when I was busy beating myself up over infertility, trying to figure out why it happened – or more to the point, what I had done to make it happen to me. I’d think of all the choices I’d made along the way and imagine if I’d started earlier and had children with someone who wasn’t right for me, instead of waiting so long for Mr. Fab. Does any of this sound familiar?

Once you get that negative self-talk going, it’s easy to convince yourself of all kinds of things that aren’t true. And is that really going to help the healing process? Probably not. More likely it’s just going to create more stress and give you wrinkles.

So today, as you’re going about your business, listen to what you’re telling yourself. We all have plenty of real conflict in our lives; let’s not add to it by creating more in our heads.


13 Responses to “What’s Going on in Your Head?”

  1. CiCi Says:

    I’ve had similar negative thought processes lately and decided today to make the change. It’s crazy how we can sit and think about one thing for so long that it controls all the rest of our thoughts for the day. Here’s to moving on!

  2. Jennifer Says:

    You’re definitely not alone. My specialty is waking up around 3 a.m. and replaying scenarios from days/years/decades ago.

    On a different note, I saw a screening of Miss Representation the other day, and thought of you, Lisa, and what this community might make of it. Off-topic here, but I wanted to get the thought out before I forgot…

    I’ve been faithfully reading here, but silent. Still appreciate the safe haven where I can feel “normal” and among friends.

  3. Believe me, you’re not alone! I’m still replaying an unresolved conflict from over a year ago. It seems like women, more than men, truly need closure for these kinds of things. So when you run into a problem where you can’t easily obtain closure (infertility, a fight with a friend who refuses to talk about it, etc.), we keep trying to solve it in our heads. The only successful remedy I’ve found is very, very dry dirty Grey Goose martinis.

  4. Elena Says:

    Hi Lisa, it’s probably very normal to do that.
    Even if the thought of the stress hormones pumping around might be true, i think there might also be some sort of psychological reason for doing that. I mean, it’s basically the same thing as visualizing something, which is a thing you can do consciously to prepare yourself for a difficult task.
    Certainly, we shouldn’t beat ourselves up for beating ourselves up – sure that can only make it worse!
    Also, I’ve finally gotten and read your book – great!!! so I thing what’s going on in your head is just fine :-)!!

  5. Angela Says:

    I do the same thing! I can never actually confront people, so I just have the “discussions” in my head and get myself worked up over what I think they might say. It’s dumb, but I can’t help it and I’ve always been that way. I should start having imaginary conversations where people tell me how much they love and admire me LOL!

  6. IrisD Says:

    You are describing my life over the last several years…. specifically most of grad school, when I quit my teaching job, which I had to be prepared for on a daily basis, and went into the solitary wilderness of dissertation writing and procrastination… For years I lived in my own head… All it did was breed anxiety and probably engender a few self-fulfilling prophecies of the negative kind… get out of your head, unless you are day dreaming about good things which might trigger inspiration, living too much in your head just leads to anxiety and depression.

  7. I seem to have a similar habit. Thanks for the post.

  8. Mali Says:

    It’s so nice not to be alone. I’ve definitely done the imaginary conversation in which people say nasty things to me and I try to come up with the perfect response. It’s always worst case scenario – and it has never happened. Finally, I realised a) that in business terms it helped prepare me even if it did stress me out, but that I should prepare in a more reasonable (ie less stressful/emotional) way, and b) in personal relationships/infertility terms, often what I imagine people saying to me are what I fear they are thinking, and says more about me than them.

    As a result of analysing all this, I’m better able to control my thoughts. (Not completely – I had about a week after Christmas of replaying an upsetting conversation with my sister – just a bit better than I used to be!)

  9. Pearl Says:

    It took me years of cognitive therapy to finally learn not to mull over negative thoughts all the time. I still do it, but at least I catch myself after a few minutes. I still have not learned what to substitute those guilty/negative thoughts with. I used to carry a list with me, reminding me of all the goodness I still have in my life and all the positive things about myself. Maybe I should do that again.

  10. Jemia Nixon Says:

    I have had so many years of these same thoughts that I think I may need therapy. i am so tired of the negative thoughts and the family members and friends that try to help but just say the wrong things. I am hopefully that maybe a blog spot like this will help with my thoughts before I truly go and search for a shrink.

    • mina Says:

      Jemia, why not go and search for a “shrink”? It can be really helpful and is not something to be ashamed of.

      • Jemia Says:

        The thing is I may have to as I know that I am driving my husband bonkers with every mood swing and it only happens around that time of the month.

        I guess with the hormones already in overdrive it adds to the proverbial “elephant in the room”.

        Thanks so much.

        I am happy that as I have read your other comments on this site that there are people that understand my plight and not think I am being over emotional as some of my family and friends think.

        I am of Caribbean decent and this is like a taboo to not have children yet especially because I am approaching 2 score years. My grandmother had her 9th child at 34 and my mother her last live birth at 36. It makes me feel less of a woman sometimes as I do not have any children for my husband – who tries to hide it but wants kids soooo bad.

        Thanks for the words of encouragement.

  11. Kate B Says:

    I do that too – run over scenarios, always expecting the worst to happen and getting myself all worked up. And then it doesn’t happen. I want some exercises to stop doing that to myself!

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