Out of Sight, Out of Mind

“Out of sight, out of mind.”

This saying has been a more frequent passenger in my train of thoughts these days. I’m sure you know what it means. It is most likely the answer to my question to all human beings who seemingly have all their crap together: just how do you all successfully deal with negativity and detractors? How do you overcome negative thoughts and feelings that plague you out of the blue? And these negative thoughts and feelings come with reason, too. It’s harder to push them away or deal with them if they have the “right” to exist. It’s my Number One problem, and I am sure it’s also everybody else’s.

As a child, I used to be the hypersensitive kid. Every little thing you tell me, no matter what offhand comment that may be, it will stick with me for the longest of times. I was — and actually still is — the overthinker. I overthink every little action I give and every little reaction I receive from others. I am honestly not sure if I had outgrown that part of me. Even now, as a 20-year-old person, I still have trouble not overthinking stuff, but I am getting better at shrugging some things off and picking just the particular things to give my emotional attention to. Of course, it doesn’t come easily at all. It’s still a lot of work and pain to go through. I still find it difficult to let things go.

What happens when it happens? It happens to me like this: for example, someone said or did something that really brought a strong negative reaction out of me, and I couldn’t really “reach” that person no matter how much I try to explain and push myself unto him/her, and so I’m left all frustrated, with all these pent-up feelings inside me that I couldn’t properly direct to that person, because he/she wasn’t willing to receive them. In this situation, I normally find my moments on the bed before I sleep talking to myself, having a soliloquy about everything I feel, all my negative feelings, about why I feel this way. “Should I even feel this way?” At this point, I’m most likely already crying. Then, I drift off to sleep. It doesn’t end there, when I wake up the next day, it continues: the feelings I slept through are themselves awakened, and my next moment is in the bath, when I have myself all alone again. The thought process repeats from last night. In these emotional monologues, I try to make myself understand and explain the specific reasons why I feel these negative feelings. I walk myself through — no matter how painful it is (as if there is any other non-painful way?) — my emotions. I do this, because, I hate feeling bad. Who doesn’t, right? I hate feeling bad, and if I am feeling bad, then there must be a sensible reason why, because if I don’t like feeling bad, then I would never ever voluntarily feel this way at all. That’s my reasoning. And from this reasoning, I try to also dig deep into the reasoning why I feel this certain type of way. This applies to all negative emotions I experience: frustration, anger, envy, jealousy, everything.

This is my defense mechanism. This is how I make myself feel “better.” After finding out that, well, look at that, my negative emotions are justified, then I suddenly feel a whole lot better. I’m wondering why. It’s probably because once we understand things, we become less scared of them. And, of course, anyone who finds out that they have the right to feel a certain way, I’m sure they would feel better about feeling that certain way. Logic.

But why would I feel better about having the right to feel negative emotions? Because I don’t like feeling them. I resent myself when I feel them. I just figured it out right now a little more clearly as I am writing this: I hate myself for having negative feelings. The why’s of this, well, this probably has a lot to do with the values I was taught as a child. (Now that I think about it, these are the right values, because teaching people to feel good about feeling bad I don’t think is a good thing, especially when the “bad feelings” are more of the sinister kind.)

And these are the times when I have to remind myself that it’s alright. It’s okay to feel bad about things sometimes. It’s part of life, and it’s much better to acknowledge them and accept these feelings for what they are, most especially if there is a reason why they exist! Because, as we all know, everything in this world is just actions and reactions. And that negative feeling I am feeling is just a reaction to an action. It’s natural!

After I finally arrive to this conclusion and lecture myself with these realizations, I ruminate about these negative feelings less and less. Since I already know why I felt them, since I finally understood them, I can finally let them go, too. I read this quote by Mitch Albom, which I find accurate and really helpful: “In order to move on, you must understand why you felt what you did and why you no longer need to feel it.” He’s exactly right! And once I understand that feeling, I find it easier to make reasons why I no longer need to feel it, why I should just move on from it and let it go. It’s not really completely easy honestly, but there is progress at least.

Sometimes, of course, it doesn’t always work this way. Sometimes, even though, after understanding the what and why of that negative feeling, I still can’t let go of it, and I don’t find letting go of it to be the right thing to do. For that, there is only solution:

Time.

I just let time pass by and let it do its magic. This takes — no pun intended — a lot of time, and at first, it might not feel that it does anything because it’s not an active solution, but it does work. Just like with other things.

Other times, I just try to willingly forget. However, this only works when the negative emotion isn’t really that intense, when the reason of its existing is something that I can just ignore and shrug off. As the quote said above, “out of sight, out of mind.” It only works when it wasn’t that much big of a deal, though. When it turns out to be irresponsible forgetting or shrugging off in my part, when it turns out to be a bigger deal to me than I initially expected, then that’s when trouble happens. In this case, the self-debating/self-therapy route (as indicated above) has to be taken. There’s no escaping it.

If only things didn’t have to be this hard…

3 Replies to “Out of Sight, Out of Mind”

  1. I really like this post, and I feel a bit more connected to you now after reading it. I also feel that you and I have something in common, we tend to dwell on negative reactions from the past or whenever they occur for to long. With me, I was always told “Stop dwelling about the past, you can’t change it.” I need to hear this other than the person I am surrounded by daily. My dad has told me this, my grandmother when she was alive, along with others. I even had my therapist tell me this, and I finally admitted to myself that there are certain things I tend to over do and over think. Like you, I’m an over thinker and analyzer on a lot of things about life. Also like you about the over thinking/analyzing bit, I have matured in such a way to not over think/analyze about certain topics that I feel are unnecessary to dwell on. Sure, something may float into my short-term memory from something that happened years ago, and I’m sure you’re like me when I say I need closure on things, because it makes me feel better that something had gotten done. It seems that we are a LOT a like in many ways than I had realized. I like this about a person, and I think this is why I get along well with some because those that I do get along with tend to be and think like me. Weird, huh?

    1. I’ve always wished that there was a way to turn off my brain even for just a little bit, so I could concentrate more on doing productive things instead of dwelling on persistent negative thoughts. It’s so inconvenient, especially since it paralyzes me for a loooong time. If only we had that option, life would be so much easier… My parents are the total opposite of me. They’re always getting things done. I wish I was more like them.

      Having closure on things is definitely the ideal way, but sometimes it’s not so easy.

      Thanks for reading by the way!

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