“They say things
come in three’s”
As I’m sitting in a Pret a Manger with a cranberry juice watching people buy pastries and eat rather empty looking salads – a sudden thought dawns on me. Well, it’s more like my conscious has invaded my subconscious as all of a sudden I go from thinking “I could do with a sandwich” to suddenly “PEOPLE-ONLY-SAY-THINGS-COME-IN-THREES-WHEN-THEY’RE-REFERRING-TO-NEGATIVE-SITUATIONS!”; which must have left me looking completely mindblown.
Now I say this not because I saw my reflection in a conveniently positioned mirror, but that a barista looked mildly concerned as he looked in my direction. Now getting brain invasions is something I am used to, as I’ve found that brain fog affects how you recall or process information. So I had most likely already had that thought and completely forgot about the profound nature and mistakenly retrieved it by staring into the chilled goods section (simultaneously evoking mild concern in an innocent member of staff). However luckily for you (or not so lucky depending on whether you come to this blog out of interest or a sense of pitying obligation), I was sat with my notebook within reach and a pen handily stashed in my backpack.
Admittedly I have found myself believing this and depending on your outlook it may be true. But sitting in that little Pret a Manger with the smell of coffee and magic of pride weekend in the air, I feel utterly inspired and it dawns on me…
Maybe we all focus on three otherwise coincidental incidents which would’ve felt like pure shite rather than have an X number of difficult experiences which we can breakdown and work through step-by-step.
I almost feel like we’re expecting the next thing, but it’s difficult to feel differently when you’re so used to experiencing bouts of bullshit (which I have externalised by aptly reducing it to the acronym BOBS) that you become slightly desensitised. Now believe you me, I understand the freakin’ feeling – and as I’m someone who happens to have co-existing mental/physical health conditions, I can’t stop the BOBS; yes I can change the way I deal with them, and I have – but no matter how I go about handling them I can’t stop them. BOBS will not be stopped, they can at times seem relentless and then they seem to lay off a bit. However when you’re used to BOBS tormenting you and then fucking off for a while, then coming back to trip you over when you’re least expecting it; you begin to expect just that happening again. So is this the reason we look for the different problems BOBS bring each time they come a-knockin’?
Well I’m not ashamed to admit that I used to view the world in black and white because it shows I have grown, but with growing used to difficulties and having what feels like very little time to gather myself together so my body doesn’t completely feel like it’s going to give out at any given moment, I still find myself expecting the next issue, battle, and stress.
So why the hell do we focus on the negative, ruminate and feel paralysed by a swarm of difficulties?
If you’re like me and spend hours pondering why we behave the way we do, then this may be of some interest to you. Evolutionary psychology can be used to explain how the linear outlook regarding positive and negative emotions is actually counter-intuitive. By this, I mean how many in society can see positive emotions as entirely good in every situation, and negative emotions as entirely bad in every situation.
“The quest for happiness has expanded from a focus on relieving suffering to also considering how to promote happiness. However, both approaches have yet to be conducted in an evolutionary framework-“, “because of this, the emphasis has almost all been on the disadvantages of negative states and the benefits of positive states, to the nearly total neglect of ‘diagonal psychology’, which also considers the dangers of unwarranted positive states and the benefits of negative emotions in certain situations.” (Nesse, 2004).
This explanation serves to show how by viewing the negative and positive with a black and white filter, we cannot acquire the happiness we strive for due to unrealistic, and frankly unachievable expectations created by cultural desirability. So it’s a possibility that by identifying BOBS and being conditioned to respond to BOBS we are evolutionarily programmed to act in such a way. Is it the cultural stigma surrounding this so-called pessimistic outlook which makes us perceive such a reaction as a negative thing in a black and white sense?
Our current state of mental health
It’s fair to say that one can possess a black and white outlook on one’s emotional states due to cultural influence, but then we have the influence from our current state of mental health which acts as a contributory factor too.
As someone with depression and who has struggled with PTSD and an anxiety disorder in the recent past, I can certainly attest to this; and for this section, I am going to speak from my personal experiences as matters like these are very individual to a person. Whenever I find my mental health being in a stable place with a healthy state of mind, I am more capable of processing and entertaining both negative and positive emotions. I can distinguish between the two but don’t tend to dwell on things like I can find myself doing when my mental wellbeing wains. When I find that it starts to falter, I am less able to work through problems I am having, and I am discouraged easier whenever I feel negative emotions due to my mental plate already being full.
So how could we work through this? Well, from my personal experience I can say that for one – therapy and antidepressants in combination are definitely effective. However, if you’re currently awaiting a referral or are unable to access therapy services, then utilising the types of skills therapy can teach us can be beneficial. Now obviously working through past emotional traumas and understanding the root cause of your depression/anxiety is something we cannot achieve without professional support. But skills such as mindfulness aren’t going to negatively affect us as they are something everyone can benefit from. Below I have attached a few links to guided meditation videos and informational links which can further inform you on mindfulness.
- What is mindfulness?
- Getting started with mindfulness
- UK mindfulness courses
- Guided mindfulness meditation exercises
Now that we’ve talked about the reasons why we may be inclined to perceive things this way, well…what now? What can we do other than engaging in mindfulness etc? Well, I’m very pleased you asked. Of course, I really advise seeking medical help above everything else and accessing charitable organisations for informational resources and advice which can help you prior to a referral or to try and seek affordable support services (if you live in places without public healthcare).
Below I have listed multiple organisations and different pieces of content which you may find beneficial – however, if you wish to read about other people’s personal experiences with mental health, there are many different mental health bloggers and vloggers out there, as well as support groups both online and in-person. Of course, you can also access my other content in the mental health tab by clicking here.
- Mind is a mental health organisation providing an array of different informative resources and tools. It relies on donations but still manages to provide support lines and a support email service. If you wish to learn more about their online community, or ways you can support those around you with mental health concerns Mind offers such information.
- Headspace is an app which allows users to access themed meditation sessions to alleviate stress, along with improving sleep and stress. The sessions can be bitesize or S.O.S sessions are available if you have a meltdown. The company offer free subscriptions however they are limited, and you can only access all of their resources by attaining a paid subscription.
- If you are a regular reader of my blog you know I always include the Samaritan’s contact details as the organisation aim to reduce the number of lives lost to suicide; because like they say ‘every life lost to suicide is a tragedy’. The organisation have helplines with trained volunteers who can help you if you need to talk to someone. If you wish to donate to the charity, you can do so here.
Sending love and hugs
Nesse, R. (2004). Natural selection and the elusiveness of happiness. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B: Biological Sciences, [online] 359(1449), pp.1333-1347. Available at: https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/abs/10.1098/rstb.2004.1511 [Accessed 11 Aug. 2019].