You can’t control everything in your head.
Your perceptions and reactions and responses are the result of a complex interplay between your neurochemistry, what’s happening around you, your conditioning, your genetics, and dozens of other factors that we don’t even know about.
We can’t possibly control for ALL of the factors that contribute to why you think what you think and feel what you feel and do what you do.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t control ANY of those factors.
It’s because we can’t control EVERYTHING that goes into our perceptions and reactions and behaviors, that we really have to take steps to control the factors that we can.
What CAN we control when it comes to our perceptions, reactions, and behaviors?
We can control how we talk to ourselves.
We can control what we purposefully visualize.
We can control a certain amount of the media content we expose ourselves to, and the amount of certain types of media that we consume.
Whether we talk to ourselves in a supportive, reasonable tone or not, matters.
Nobody functions well when they’re being yelled at or shamed or mocked.
Yet, that’s how many of us try to deal with ourselves— often because that’s how others spoke to us growing up.
When you’ve been mocked and scorned for much of your life, it’s easy to internalize that way of relating to yourself.
What we intentionally visualize or imagine, matters.
Sometimes pictures pop into our head automatically (especially when we’re struggling with post traumatic flashbacks).
But there are at least some times when we have a choice about what to picture in our heads— and we will have a reaction to what we choose to visualize.
Visualizing a cuddly house cat is different from visualizing a hungry, angry lion.
It makes a difference whether we spend our days consuming media depictions of violence and despair— wither fictional or not.
“It’s just TV,” you might tell yourself…but hour after hour after hour of watching violence adds up in our heads.
Our brains cheerfully feed back to us what we feed them.
If you struggle with really negative, unpleasant, upsetting, violent thoughts and feelings, I’m NOT saying that you “cause” them by what you say to yourself, what you visualize, and what you watch and listen to.
What I AM saying is that what we say to ourselves, what we visualize, and what we watch and listen to can powerfully reinforce negative, upsetting, frightening thing in our heads…so we have to be vigilant.
I don’t believe in blaming people for what they feel. In my experience, it’s just not that simple. I don’t think people “choose” to be scared or sad or angry.
I just think we owe it to ourselves to give ourselves every possible chance to effect how we feel by keeping track of what we say to ourselves, what we visualize, and what we watch and listen to.
We can’t control everything.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t control anything.