Pointless pondering

rumination

What a few months have passed me by. It’s been pretty good for my New Year’s resolutions – I’ve moved out of my mum’s house and into a place with my girlfriend; I’ve kept on reading and writing (the latter has been on another blog of mine); I’ve crammed a lot of friend time in; and I’ve had the time to spend some quality time with myself. I’ve also been feeling a bit more confident in general and feel like my newly found independence has given me a certain freedom of expression that wasn’t there before. God knows why.

So why the title? Well, to be honest, it’s to do with something that very recently happened to me which spurred me to get something off my chest.

A break from the norm

The ‘event’ happened at Gatwick Airport a couple of days ago on my way back from a work conference in Barcelona. My colleague and I had just got off the plane and rounded the corner to within sight of the passport control bit of the airport. As I’m walking towards where the queue begins, I notice there’s a queue of people coming from the opposite direction to us going towards the same queueing point.

At this point, I was unsure of what to do. On the one hand, I feel the compulsion to join the back of the queue coming from the opposite direction – a line of around 200 people. On the other, I watch as people from my flight walk straight towards the beginning of the queue and just kind of merge with the other line.

I decide I’m going to merge with the line but in between both the end of the opposite line and the start of the queue. I join the line and it’s moving pretty freely, some people are coming from the opposite direction and just walk straight into the beginning of the queue with no issue. I then start thinking, well if they can do that then is this line actually a queue? Like, why are we deciding to form a line before the actual queue starts?

So, in a move that is a break from the norm for me, I then begin walking my normal pace which naturally had me walking a bit faster than those directly in front of me. I don’t particularly think this is an issue considering the line itself is a few people wide and the sheer number of people ahead of us totalled another few hundred.

I get to the beginning of the queue point and I hear someone shout “Oi! You!”. I turn around and see this guy who strongly resembled a teacher from my old secondary school pointing directly at me. “Yeh, you! Quit pushing in!” I kind of freeze, not sure of what to do, just kind of looking at this guy. I decide to walk back to where my colleague is and join back in behind this guy, on the way back remarking “calm down mate, it’s not like I would’ve made much difference to you.”

Rumination

Since that happened, the scenario has played through my head a countless number of times as I continue to break the situation down, replay it, and question whether I was in the right or not, beating myself up about it when I arrive at the “I was in the wrong” conclusion, and become frustrated I didn’t defend myself when I decide I was in the right.

Whether I was, in fact, right or wrong (I’m sure you’ll have your own opinion on it) isn’t the point of me telling this story. It’s the fact that I actually give too much of a shit sometimes.

You see, one of the first things I did was explain it to my girlfriend to get her opinion on the situation. Because I’d been through the scenario so many times in my head, I was expecting a really in-depth conversation about it. Instead, I just got a few response texts making light of the situation before moving on to a different subject. As a result, I feel frustrated that I don’t have a conclusive answer to my worries. That isn’t any fault of my girlfriend’s – it’s entirely mine.

Setting myself up for failure

And this is something I do with pretty much any situation I find myself in. Be it a brief exchange (friendly or not) with someone or an entire evening or interaction with someone.

The problem is, it’s not at all helpful. I think I’m helping myself when actually all I’m doing is setting myself up for failure. I will never get the response I want because I will never stop thinking about it and I’m the only one who has seen the scenario from my point of view.

The only thing I can really do is apply what I learned in my CBT sessions and try and break the thought cycle. I have to actively interject in the frantic thoughts and ask questions like “was it really that bad?” or “what can I actually do about it now?”And the answers are almost always no and nothing. It does help in most cases to help tone down the ruminating, although those scenarios do tend to randomly pop back into my memory every now and then.

Life lessons

I suppose that’s the ‘lesson’ I can suggest others to follow: challenge the perspective of your thought process. I know what ruminating is like and it almost feels like a chaotic cloud of different thoughts all playing at once in your head.

But it doesn’t have to be like that. They’re your thoughts and you can do what you want with them, so interject. Look at your thoughts logically, identify which ones are illogical/unactionable, and question them, then see what positives you can take from them. In this particular situation, I thought everyone in that line must hate me for what I’d done. But really, whether they do or don’t, what can I do about that? In terms of the ‘good’ thing I can take from it, perhaps I can just be more patient next time – like a life lesson.

So that’s where I’ll leave it. I hope this post actually made some sense.

Speak soon.

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