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Vandegrift Voice

Working with self control

Lanie Malone, Staff Reporter

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Last week my friends and I were at a gas station when a random lady driving a large, red truck came out from the gas station. I didn’t catch a good look at her. Instead, I caught a good look at her throwing open her car door, which slammed against my car. I stared in amazement as she didn’t even look at me to see if my car was okay. She definitely felt her giant door slam into mine with intense force. I rolled down my window to say something but my friends and I were flabbergasted and reluctant to call after her. So, as I sat silently frozen in shock, she began cursing and thrashing her head around like an animal.

I went home later that night and thought deeply about what had happened. I felt weak for not screaming back. The situation ran around in my head on a loop, like I had done something wrong. Why did I feel this way?

I called up one of my best friends, Mayla, who had been in the situation with me. She’s the person I go to whenever my brain isn’t functioning clearly. When my head gets carried away and begins thinking pessimistically rather than using optimism, I look to her. She explained to me what happened was simply someone being obnoxious. “There’s no point in stressing over something that already happened and didn’t really affect you!”

The thing is, I have bipolar disorder. For me, for my whole life, it’s been difficult to decipher if a situation is something to get upset over or not. Words will run through my head all day, constantly giving me negative feedback, kind of like someone with OCD would do. When I tie my shoes wrong, I re-tie them again to make sure they won’t touch the ground when I walk. When someone is talking to me, even the most positive of conversations, I can either overanalyze it or it will roll over me like an ocean’s tide.

Never knowing what to do has been frustrating me for my whole life. Even when I was little; it’s been like there’s a tiny monster that occupies the dark side of my brain, whom randomly will jump out and scream “DO SOMETHING NOW AND DON’T THINK ABOUT IT.” How am I supposed to override this impulsive monster ? What was the proper way to react?

Even though I’ve gathered a large group of friends to help me, sometimes I wake up in the morning and think I have no one. But this isn’t true. I always have someone. Because I’m not the best at expressing and decoding emotions, I seldom have any idea if my reactions are reasonable. Should I have freaked out and yelled back at the lady who hit my car? To me  this was a very conflicting issue.

To help me handle these situations  I came  up with a plan for the next time a situation frightens me, placing  me in a negative state of mind, that I predominately shove deep beneath my consciousness where I don’t have to think about it.

Whenever something bad happens to me, I have two leading reactions. The first is to react on the spot. My brain thinks, “You have to react right now using your full-fledged emotions.” But the secret is that no one can react immediately to negative emotions from someone or something else with success. Nearly every time this is done, it just feeds the sensitive little impulsive monster in my head. The best option is the second, which is thinking before you react to a challenging situation.

I have to hold myself still and take in what’s happening around me. I breathe deeply. In through the nose, out through the mouth. And then I can react. “I’m sorry you feel this way, how can I fix it?” A calm, centered response will hopefully trigger a similar reaction by the other  person.

The reason for this is simple. I’ve concluded that the world is not predictable. Every day brings new surprises, good and bad enter mine and everyone else’s life. It’s how you react that  brings you success. Not only will the person you are  having issues with be surprised in your commitment to peace, but they will also be intimidated. When I think of the many times I’ve given a heated reaction to a situation, I’ve never felt better by giving off an unfavorable or violent execution, only guilty.

So rather than cursing myself over being an overthinker who freezes up when someone is angry at me, I believe it gives me great success and puts me at an advantage. I don’t want to be a menacing person who doesn’t think about their actions. My reactions are something I will continue to work on because the truth is, calm people who ponder their actions more than others will be able to handle stressful situations adequately. I’ll always have the part of me who wants to react, break things, to be angry. But the earth shattering truth is that to hold yourself together will always be the best route to take when dealing with bad news, and you can quote me on that. 

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Working with self control