A few days ago I met a friend for lunch and we talked for hours about therapy, self-discovery and the understanding of ourselves (plural).
We walked along the streets of Newtown, passing by artsy characters and interesting little shops. We had lunch at my favourite restaurant called Lentils As Anything. After lunch we wandered around, dipping into health stores and thrift stores. Soon enough it was almost dinner time and we decided to stop for a drink. We ended up in a funky bar and found two green armchairs pushed up against a window. Perfect. We sat down and I sipped my rum and apple juice, running my fingers along the green velvet chair as she told me what she’s learned since seeing a counsellor.
She talked about how to detach from negative parts of your character so it can be examined objectively. We all have different characters inside of us. Each of them takes hold of the circuits in our brain and fill our heads with their ideas and emotions. Perhaps there may be times when we become uncontrollably angry, or jealous, or greedy. She said that the next time this “person” arises, be curious about it. Why is it here? What is it about this situation that invited it? Each of these versions of ourselves is linked to an early memory making us reactive and in many ways, illogical. Once we gain more of an understanding of each of them then we can learn how to slow them down and allow for the best parts of ourselves to take the spotlight.
When she told me this I began imagining the sharp versions of myself that exist within my mind. I thought about the selfishly introspective side, the enthusiastic extrovert, the insecure and jealous. All of them are placed neatly inside my head, they’ve been calling it home for nearly 30 years now. Depending on the situation I’m faced with, one of them will run to take control of my brain, seizing it completely. It such a defeating feeling to be at the mercy of emotions.
It’s interesting to detach yourself from these emotional triggers that are buried deep in our brain. It takes a great deal of patience, forgiveness and stamina to reign in the negative parts of ourselves. We need to be on constant surveillance, acting like security guards in our own mind. But the frustrating thing is a lot of it is just observing the chaos without being able to do anything about it.
I imagine emotional triggers like waves crashing over me in a rough ocean. I’m swimming at a beach, somewhere with warm, turquoise water and white sand. The water is just deep enough for my feet to reach the bottom. I float like a buoy, in rhythm with the waves. When I feel a wave (a thought or situation) come towards me I dive under it, hoping it won’t pull me into the tumble zone. I can feel it above me as it lulls me in, pulling my hair softly then crashing just behind my legs. Each time I miss it by gliding under the crash I feel so energised and powerful. But then somehow I’ll be looking up at the sky daydreaming and a wave will pull me in and there I go; a slave to my emotions.
So I stay alert and awake, watching and waiting.