I was watching Change Your Brain, Change Your Life on PBS last week. I know, single me is thrilling. Anyway, Dr. Amen is going through all the different brain types. He says there are compulsive brains, impulsive brains and for the mack daddy of neuroses, compulsive-impulsive brains. He lists the types and the characteristics. When he described the compulsive brain, I knew instantly that was me by the flip-flops my stomach turned. Compulsive brains get stuck on one thought until they become over-focused. These are some of the other not-so-flattering characteristics:
Excessive or senseless worrying; being upset when things do not go your way; being upset when things are out of place; tendency to be oppositional or argumentative; tendency to have repetitive negative thoughts; tendency toward compulsive behaviors; intense dislike of change; tendency to hold grudges; trouble shifting attention from subject to subject; trouble shifting behavior from task to task; difficulties seeing options in situations; tendency to hold on to own opinion and not listen to others; tendency to get locked into a course of action, whether or not it is good; being very upset unless things are done a certain way; perception by others that you worry too much; tendency to say no without first thinking about question; and tendency to predict negative outcomes.
It was like Dr. Amen saw the things within me that I try to hide from even my closest friends. Every now and then I'll feel brave enough to try to explain my thought patterns to one of my friends and she'll just look at me without the slightest comprehension. My friends, obviously, do not have compulsive brains.
Having a compulsive brain has benefited me in many ways. Like when I was tired of being unprepared for the future, I went to the library and checked out about 20 books on finance, read them all and followed the steps and opened the necessary accounts and then I lived on $10 a day for about a year to fund those accounts. Having a one-tracked mind kept me focused (to the point of obsession), but it enabled me to succeed.
The same thing happened after I left S and started a new job in a new industry in which I had no previous experience. A lot of reading and a lot of work hours coupled with my strive for perfection made me a necessary asset to my company, at which I've done very well. Compulsive behavior wins again.
I'm also compulsive with my knitting, but for very different reasons. I am a yarn-aholic and have begun hiding yarn from my sight in my one-bedroom apartment. It was fine when it fit in a chest; and then a chest and a basket; and then a chest, a basket and then the laundry room. Now we are approaching on chest, basket, laundry room and hidden-box-under-the-bed territory. My mind is again stuck. Boyfriends have asked me why I love knitting so much to the point that I have to do it for hours every day, and I would just shrug and say, "it quietens my mind." I never realized how true that statement was. Because when I'm knitting, I'm not thinking about my stock choices or my wording choices at work or my many boy problems. I'm not thinking at all.
Do you know how exhausting it is being me? Having a thought pattern that works like a runaway train stuck on a mouse wheel? Running 100 miles an hour but never goes anywhere? Oftentimes I feel like a skipping record and would just wish for someone to come up to me and slap me on the side of the head just to get my thoughts to move forward. I once told a person I didn't want to believe in heaven, because if that's the case, then I'm stuck my thoughts for eternity.
Because having a compulsive brain also means that when it switches gears to boys, I obsess. I will review every detail forwards and backwards and sideways and unilaterally. And this isn't the cute, healthy compulsion that funded my Roth IRA; this is the damaging compulsion that makes me unattractive to men.
But wait! Dr. Amen is a doctor! And he has the fix-it solution to quieten my mind without making me the weird yarn lady or the Prozac popper. He has a list of foods to eat and supplements to take, so I am going to try it out.
It explains why I feel the need to write out my feelings on here, when you may think I am still thinking about things I shouldn't be. It's just the way I think. It is how my brain operates. I feel the need to reminisce every gory detail and disgusting action that happened in my previously relationships because I have a hard time letting go and turning my mind elsewhere. The characteristic of repeating negative thoughts could not be more spot on. When I am told how I should feel or what I should feel, I will take it and run with it. But I feel myself getting better. I am learning to love myself for the first time in my life, and I'm not going to let that derail my progress to the point that I am once again the midst of some shame spiral where I'm hating myself for not being as far as I want to be, or where you think I should be.
Today I thought about boys less than I did yesterday. Today is a good day to me.