Wednesday, November 11, 2009

If I Could Just Shut Off My Head...

From the ODAT, page 315:

"Troubles grow bigger as we spend more time thinking about them."

I've sat in many an Al-Anon meeting, in which any mention of obsessing brings groans and sighs of agreement from the rest of the people at the table.

We can all relate. Obsessive thinking seems to be a common character trait among Al-Anon members. We can move through great long stretches of our lives like zombies in a B-movie: eyes blank, expression vacant, while all the time, we are engaged in a furiously concentrated mental loop which never solves a damn thing, but ever ramps up our anxiety, frustration and fear.

I've gotten more skilled at observing the early signs of this in my thinking, but there will most likely always be times when I find to my disgust that I've been doing this again for the last 3 hours. The trick is to realise this, and stop without simply transferring onto a different loop in which I give myself royal hell for obsessing.

I've had days where I've had to blast music for hours, music which I cannot help but sing along to - that will get me outside my head. (You know the kind, songs you know by heart, and could sing perfectly with no musical accompanyment whatsoever; they're burned into your memory from a time when you put a song on "repeat" and played it 3000 times in a row, driving your parents or anyone else within earshot to screaming madness.)

Whatever works. Hard physical exercise helps my antsiness, but doesn't work for the mental loops. I've had days where I've read every reading on a topic, in every daily reader that I own, then gone online and read blogs, then called a friend, and still cannot get off that damn loop. That's when I remember that I have one resource which never fails me - God. I don't know if I have some strange idea that I need to try all human methods first before "bothering" God with my obsessing, or if it's just the control freak aspect of my nature wanting to do it "my way," on those days.

If I'm fortunate, I will catch myself dipping a toe in that pond, yank it back, turn smartly on my heel, and walk away, asking as I go, that God grant me release from my obsession. I like those times - recovery then seems like a smooth and level path, clearly signposted, with great scenery. The trick is to love and respect myself under both circumstances. God does.


  1. Great blog. I pray in the morning to be gratefull. Sometimes exercise helps me to slow the wheel in my head from spinnig so fast. I want to meditate more too. Peace

  2. If I stay present in the day, my brain generally doesn't replay the old tapes over and over. Also, when I let God in instead of pushing Him away, I don't obsess nearly as much.