Imagine you are listening to your favorite album on a record player. The music is playing as you go about your business of tidying up the house and taking care of the kids (insert personal responsibilities). All of a sudden, the record skips JUST as the needle hits the few seconds of a song that you really dislike. You try to go about your business and wait for it to continue with the great song that was playing, but it just keeps repeating the same annoying line. Each time, the lyrics jab at you harder than during the previous loop.
That is the baseline of an intrusive thought.
Some of us get them stronger than others, and they always vary in degree. Sometimes they are short and irritating, and sometimes they are persistent and brutal. It isn’t even confined to our own thoughts. We can have this recurring thought pattern in response to someone else’s feelings. It is very common for us to overreact to things. That is actually a simple thing to understand, we just usually don’t make the connection. By the time we lash out, we have been tortured by this thought so much, that we can’t take it anymore. We need it out and resolved. We just need it gone. The frustration bursts out of us and lands on pretty much anyone. Afterward, we get to be tortured by the thoughts resulting from our regret and self-loathing. It is a damaging cycle that is incredibly difficult to end and even harder to prevent.
Conflicts that lasted for two minutes can torture the mind for hours or days. Insignificant moments to someone else, can feel significant to us because our brain locked on to it at some point and is having a difficult time letting it go. Trust me, this is far more annoying for us than those who have to witness or unwillingly participate.
Those of us who recognize that the record player is broken, work very hard to make it work. We get up over and over again to reset the needle. We try humming something upbeat to distract our minds. At our weakest moments, we swear off the whole record altogether because it would be easier to not listen to it at all, than for it to periodically or semi-constantly torture us. We survive those moments and hit play for another go ’round.
In the end, we can do nothing about it. Our record player is broken and it is the only one that we have. I will continue to work hard toward my peace by resetting the needle, apologizing to unwilling guests as necessary, and learning about myself in order to improve. But I know that this is me, and in order to be truly happy and at peace, I have to love myself for who I am, exactly as I am. I have to recognize that everyone has flaws and mine are no worse than someone else’s. I have to forgive myself when I screw up. I have to fight my brain every single day to make sure I am in control and thinking on the wavelength that I want. I have to see my strength and perseverance. I have to love myself and all of these things about me. That is what I’m working on every single time the record starts playing.
Everyone has their issues to deal with. It is a much more enjoyable life if we learn to understand and appreciate others. It is even more wonderful if we learn to understand and appreciate ourselves. Love yourself. Be kind to one another.