First Published at Still Standing Magazine
How do you control the thoughts in your mind? How do you stop them from forever tending towards the negative? When the worst thing you could imagine in life happens your innocence is shattered forever. You can no longer rely on the good old faithful “that will never happen to me”. You now know that the darkness really does exist and you will do anything not to go back there.
Negatron. That is what people should call me these days. No matter how much I try to be positive or look for the good, the first place my mind brings me to is the negative. I wasn’t always like this but the death of my son changed everything for me. I now always worry that the worst will happen.
When my husband goes out for a run and doesn’t come home exactly on time I assume he has had a heart attack and died on the side of the road. When I get a blood test for something benign and routine I assume that the doctors will discover that there is something seriously wrong with me. I literally sit at home in a panic waiting for the bad news that inevitably doesn’t come. My husband walks in the door all sweaty and tired, late because he stopped for a coffee. My results come back all clear from the doctor. My pounding heart starts to slow and the relief sweeps through my body…until the next time.
So on top of all of the rest of my grief, I also have to work at being positive. I have to constantly pull back my negative thoughts and rationalise with my own mind. No, the worst won’t happen. I can do this. Life can be good.
It is exhausting. People around me try to help. They try to rationalise the irrational thoughts in my head. They point out that the odds of something bad happening like that are so low. But statistics are no longer my friend. The odds of my son being stillborn were roughly 1% but I was that 1%.
The other thing I often get told is to just stay positive. Oh, how I have to laugh when this beauty rears its ugly head. Just stay positive. Telling someone who is suffering from anxiety to just stay positive is tantamount to telling someone with depression to just be happy, or for an alcoholic to just stop drinking. Unfortunately, it is just not that easy.
You see the thing is that I want to be happy. I want to be positive. I want to see the silver lining and embrace opportunities. Much like grief, if I try to block out my negative thoughts they only get worse. So I now let them come. I recognise them but I try not to give them fuel. I try not to breathe life into them by feeding the negativity. I speak to myself saying yes the bad outcome is a possibility but the good outcome is more likely. Sometimes it works, other times it doesn’t but every time I try.
If running a marathon is about mind over body, then maybe overcoming negative thoughts is about heart over mind. It is about giving love and hope the opportunity to shine through. Maybe they are what light the road ahead of us so we can see where we are going.