I’m learning that if I can change the subject for long enough, I can change my life.
Sometimes, I need a holiday from my troubles. If I don’t remember to rein back thought processes about the worst case scenario at their tiniest beginnings, I can easily get stuck in looping grooves of inner negativity. Being able to swap perspectives for another view is a great tool for stopping thoughts from becoming overwhelming.
Friends who let me laugh first and give me the choice about whether or not I want to speak about what’s bothering me are the best kind of friends for me. This awareness feels cringey now as I realise I’ve not done this very thing for friends in the past. I’ve made well intentioned blunders thinking that being a good friend meant almost forcing someone to put words to the worries in their life; that relentlessly talking about it would reduce their problems, allowing them to make two or three painful but productive moves on the snakes and ladders board without slipping down a reptile.
I was wrong.
Sometimes, the difficult things are best left in a cupboard with the door firmly shut for a few hours, days or weeks. Hell, some things need months, years or decades. Life doesn’t let difficult things just disappear; it brings them continually back to stand in front of us. So why I thought I needed to ring fence that process for friends now escapes me, but I guess I felt an urgency to workshopping emotional problem solving as if it were speed dating. These days I take a longer view.
As we get older big ideas get simpler but logistics are more complex; we have more people to consider, plans and feelings are intertwined in ways they weren’t twenty years ago, we have a greater sense of what we need but have to juggle making the time to get it or keep it. Spending time lying on a cognitive sun lounger or dipping our toes in a warm salty sea of positive, enriching distraction is an essential thing, if we’re to avoid being overwhelmed. Sometimes changing the subject offers vital perspective that shrinks the negativity of other situations and allows us to feel that perhaps the stuff in the cupboard can be dealt with, after all.
I’ve started telling the people closest to me when I need a little holiday from my troubles and asking them to come and sit on the sun lounger beside mine while I soak up the rays and gently buzz off just talking about life in general or whatever’s on their mind and needing release. While our minds are relaxed and busy elsewhere our subconscious gets busy with fixing the tricky stuff, without us even being aware of just how noisily the gears are grinding. To allow our minds the space they need to work on things with intuition rather than intensity we don’t need denial; we just need a change of subject and a more relaxed perspective.