It’s all in my head.

I am, as my brilliant dad likes to tell me when I’m down, in total control of my thoughts. This doesn’t mean I am in charge of what thought processes enter my head — if I had that power I feel I would have unlocked the secret to life by now — but how I let those thoughts effect the way I react. I am in control of my own thoughts, which means I can let myself spiral out of control.

On Wednesday I had that sort of dark feeling that creeps up on you out of nowhere and taints the rest of the day with a heavy grey hue. At one point my eyes kept welling up in the library so I had to escape to the toilets to have a cry. I felt horrible. It was like an existentialist firework had exploded in my heart and head. The world was a sea of nothingness, my life was pointless, I was a shoddy human being. And do you know how it felt? Strangely lethargic.

It was almost as if by allowing myself to self-loath and self-pity I was giving myself a break from the opposite effect of avoiding these thoughts. It was ridiculously indulgent and in itself a ridiculous thing to do but I didn’t gain nothing from it. For the least I gained this blog post, but I also realised that my dad was completely right. I wasn’t in control of the initial thoughts I was having because they popped into my head unannounced, but I was in control of the amount of time I lingered on the worthless, self-pitying trite. It was all me, creating enemies out of thin air to attack my own identity from the inside. But I was exercising my power to choose how to react, and to be totally aware of what was going on inside my mind. At any moment I could have stepped in on myself and told myself to move on and shut up. Instead I chose to watch and see what would happen.

Sometimes when I feel the weight of the world sitting on my chest and restricting my breathing and my wise old dad says that it’s all in my head I want to scream at him. It’s not my fault that I feel this way! And a few seconds later when I’ve evaluated the situation in my mind and inevitably calmed myself down by not letting my thoughts influence the way that I feel, I’m suddenly a little more grateful for the helpful advice. It still wasn’t my fault, thoughts always happen one step ahead of when you’re ready for them, but I was aware of them now and that stripped them of their influence.

We have a staggering tendency to underestimate the power of our own minds by letting our own minds overpower us. It’s all in our heads, this fight against ourselves, this letting ourselves down, this frustration over how we react, and we all have the absolute power to just let it be.