Reactionary Thoughts and The Measured Response

A Facebook friend shared an article today that was really well-written and hit me in a slightly uncomfortable place and I had to puzzle out why that was. It didn't take long. The article - "A Widow's Rage Defense of Patton Oswalt's Engagement" written by Erica Roman - is beautifully written and gets to the heart of the matter very well. But the thing that really hit me was reading some of the judgmental comments that inspired the article. They made me sad, sure but I had to accept something about myself.

For a tiny, split second I had those nasty judgmental thoughts when I read that news. To soon. WTF. Side Eye. Whatever.

I am not a saint. None of us are and so sometimes our reactions are not governed by our best selves. I am somewhat of a perfectionist (which makes me an excellent employee if somewhat a powderkeg) and you bet I wish I could believe that I was the kindest bestest most inclusive accepting and beatific person I could possibly be ALL THE TIME. But I am not. Sometimes I'm having a bad day, or I'm not feeling well or I've been beaten over the head with centuries of social conditioning. And so my reactionary thoughts are sometimes mean, narrow and judgey. Sometimes racist even. Yup. And LGBTQ+ phobic.

But! They are reactions, not my actual thought out response to the world around me. And I have to forgive myself for having less-than-perfect thoughts sometimes. What I do with them is what matters.

I play this game with my therapist sometimes called First Thought Bad Thought. Basically she says something constructive to me and I have to say the first thing that comes into my head and then examine it for how irrational it (usually) is. For example.

Therapist: You got a good annual review at work, that must mean you are a valued and competent employee.

Me: No actually I have pulled the wool over their eyes for almost 5 years and am actually feckless and horrible.

Ok. So assuming it was true that I HAD been fooling my work into thinking I was smart when I was actually stupid - wouldn't it take a smart person to engage in that level of trickery and guile? So my statement implodes right there. And since I have measurable results to present my lizard brain with that yes, I get things done I then must accept that I'm a good worker.

Same thing for reactionary thoughts. In my youth I was the worst at doing this. I stop. Take a breath. Let my rational mind chew on whatever I just thought and spit out something that actually makes sense and is human (or hooman). One of my problems (that I am working on) is that Twitter is such a reactionary platform. See something you don't like? Two seconds later your distaste can be public. Click typity type type Click. I've definitely tweeted my share of mean thoughts. I am not proud.

So yeah. Acceptance that I will not be perfect ever has been hard but letting go of that has actually given me the energy to work on those parts of myself that I feel could be polished.

Including my flesh prison - I did a half hour of Just Dance 2017 today and HOT DAMN. So much flailing.

And if someone's reading this and they feel bad for having an unkind reactionary thought to something DUDE I AM WHERE YOU LIVE IT IS OK just maybe don't tweet it.

Look! Buttons!
A Widow's Rage Defense of Patton Oswalt's Engagement" written by Erica Roman - is beautifully written and gets to the heart of the matter very well. But the thing that really hit me was reading some of the judgmental comments that inspired the article." data-share-imageurl="">

Comments

I learned most of that lesson through negative reinforcement. Posting my initial, emotionally charged thought on Social Media often leads to pointless argument that uses more energy than its worth. And whatever high I felt in the moment of posting quickly vanishes in the tide of reaction to my reaction. Still, even when I take extra-special-care I still find myself posting something I regret. Your conclusion is spot-on. We are only human with a brain evolved from critters who just can't grasp the often sudden and sometimes overwhelming emotional responses. Lizard brain triggers a React Now! In immediate self gratification and the higher brain functions are paralyzed in a tangle of social conditioning. My rambling point is that you are a great human. From one Lizard-monkey brain to another.

I still have problems with negative reactions and thoughts. I may always have them. I've had depression forever so my thoughts tend to run pretty dark. Some of these thoughts are more rhetorical. Like, is it human nature to be naturally dissatisfied? Do we say/do bad things because the conflict gives us purpose? I don't know. I do know my stigma against mentally ill people was internalized and strong and that I deeply regret my reactions to them. Point is when it comes to Patton Oswalt I understand the side eye. Thing is though, I actually didn't have that reaction. I've never been widowed but I know how hard it is being alone and in pain. I just think anybody that makes the pain less horrible is worth having around no matter if it's a week after you lose someone or a year. I don't see it as a rebound I think it's absolutely genuine. No one ever replaces that person but sometimes you find equal happiness with someone new.

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