Going Dark

I have had a few things in my life lately that sent me to the dark side, a habit I work hard to break. I’m usually successful, but I needed to focus these past few weeks to get back on my preferred track.

I believe I have a choice despite a default tendency.

Let me explain.

I have a friend who rents his apartment with his partner. One works full-time, the other half-time. They get by without much to spare. Their lease is coming up for renewal. They are worried, and I’m worried about them. They may have to move from their ideal location if their rent increases.

I am concerned for them. Where will they move to? Will there be public transportation? Will the hours of service work for their evening needs? Will their new neighbourhood be safe? Will the family stresses go deep enough to cause them to separate? Who will keep their adored dog?


A more personal example.

I’m noticing more aches and pains. Feeling my age, so to speak. It’s nothing serious; it’s just a steady reminder that wasn’t present a year ago.

Is this the beginning of the end? When will I have to give up my driver’s licence? Will I eventually have to move out of my home and into a senior’s accommodation with ever-increasing levels of care?

Whoa, there, where did that come from?

Take a big breath. Another.

At these moments, I wonder why I and, I think, many humans tend to pursue the darkest of outcomes. It’s not just me.

When an expected guest’s arrival is late on a cold winter’s night, the proverbial “he could be lying in a ditch somewhere” comes to mind.

To get myself out of these dark thoughts, I remind myself I have a choice to think otherwise. Without that belief, resistance is futile.

I try to head towards a rational consideration. What are the chances of my darkest thoughts coming true? They are usually all possible but not inevitable. What alternative thinking patterns would be more reasonable in the absence of factual information?

There are many alternatives about my friend, who may or may not be lying in a ditch somewhere. His phone may not be available to him. He could be having car trouble. He is driving slower than usual to be extra safe. He could have had a late start.

I could go on, but I won’t.

Take a big breath. Another. Pour myself a glass of wine and settle in to await his safe arrival, or actual trustworthy information comes to me. I don’t need to start phoning all the hospitals along his route.

I usually don’t go down those dark paths too far before I stop. I’ve worked at being aware of when I am headed there and stopping my thinking immediately. When my guard is down, or I’m extra sleepy or tired, I can pick up old habits.

Please give this a bit of a think. Do you have some default dark paths? Do you think you have a choice in your thinking? How do you cope with these ‘dark paths?’

I’m curious about your thoughts. Please share your bit of a think in the comment section below. It will come to me for approval before posting.

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4 thoughts on “Going Dark

  1. Patti+Dolman says:

    This topic reminds me a bit of
    A Reference not a Residence
    Like you, I’ve found myself lately starting to think “ what if?” ; it usually involves my grandchildren. Images flash through my mind but usually while just going to sleep or waking up. If it’s the latter I need to get up and start my day, coffee, the newspaper and a new twist is turning on the radio. Talk radio followed by music . But back to what is happening in my thoughts. It could be that as we age our health or that of our loved ones can start to pre-occupy our mind when we least expect it. Maybe it’s due to suppressed thoughts which can lead of course to anxiety. I think it’s linked to ageing and therefore it’s important to learn why it’s happening and how we can circumvent it. Chatting with a friend or family member I think is beneficial, the premise being, if we can talk about our feelings it will lessen their being buried. Easier said than done. But more than anything else I think that staying connected with friends, having a project, a hobby, laughing and getting outdoors every day puts purpose in our lives and lightens our mood.

  2. Gail Benshabat says:

    I think that everyone thinks about “what ifs” in life. Like many things, fear is a big part of the human experience. It’s our innate defence mechanism. Without it, we couldn’t survive. But the trick is to keep a balance between a healthy fear response and an unhealthy fear response that may require intervention.

    I’ve always been a bit of a worrier and flying is one of my top fears. It never used to be. I don’t think it’s an age related thing. It’s a phobia that started after a few not-so-pleasant flights.

    During my last trip abroad, I was faced with a situation that should have sent me into full panic melt down, but thankfully it didn’t. I still don’t know how I kept my cool because I’m the one who’d be asking for a glass of wine as soon as the flight took off! (Yes, it does help take the edge off).

    Back to my experience…
    Somewhere between the east coast of Canada and Iceland, a friendly flight attendant asked me if I’d be willing to sit near the emergency exit doors. “You’ll have more room to stretch your legs” she said, smiling. It all sounded good.

    What I didn’t pay attention to was the part about the added responsibilities that come with having more leg space! Lucky me. Not really.
    Passengers sitting in the “exit rows” are expected to assist flight crew in the event of an emergency. An emergency landing!

    I didn’t over-think the possibilities of that unlikely scenario. I let it go. I didn’t sit there ruminating about all the “what ifs” either. I don’t know what I felt – it sure wasn’t fear. I was happy to have the space to reorganize my carry-on and look at my presentation notes (I was presenting at a medical conference in Amsterdam). I felt relatively okay and at ease, under the circumstances.

    One of the takeaways from this experience was that I was distracted. Distraction is a good thing. There was a shift in my focus and that helped neutralize whatever fears I had about possible flying disasters. I’m not saying that I wasn’t totally without fear – I was relaxed enough to make it to my destination.

    As far as fears go, I still worry about my daughter and grandchildren. What grandparent doesn’t?

    I guess what we need to understand is this: are our fears rational or irrational? Do I have control? Most of the time – no. I tend to worry for shorter periods of time than I used to. I don’t know why that is. Maybe it’s due to the fact that I have learned to accept whatever it is that I have no control over.

    Whenever I feel fearful about something I try to deal with it head on. I face it, acknowledge it and let it go. This practice obviously requires a lot of discipline. It’s hard because our mind always tries to bring us back to negative thoughts (those pesty “what ifs).

    Have faith. I always say a little prayer in my head to keep our loved ones safe. We don’t have to be religious to pray. Prayer can help relieve feelings of isolation, anxiety and fear. There are no guarantees that our prayers will be answered but it does help.

    Every morning I look at an app (The Awakened Way) and read my favorite author’s inspirational posts. Suzanne Giesemann is a metaphysical teacher, speaker, author and messenger of hope. She’s a retired U.S. Navy Commander who held a prominent position as Aide to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on 9/11. Listening to her speak fills me with a complete sense of calm.

    Frequent “check-ins” with our family to see if they’re okay is very important. It helps to alleviate the fears we all have about one thing or another. I just received a ping on my phone while writing this – it’s from my daughter. She notified me that they arrived safely to a friend’s cabin. A few words, a message, a phone call mean the world.

    I have tried meditation and yoga. They are amazing tools that help to keep the mind clear of dark thoughts. But like anything, they require commitment and must be performed on a daily basis.

    The last one that keeps me grounded is being grateful for all that is. This is a big one in my books. I’ve got an abundance of things and people to be grateful for in the earthly and spiritual realm. I have my daughters (one in earth and one in heaven) and two grandchildren.

    This was a great post topic Glenn!

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