Sometimes it feels like the rational and emotional parts of my mind are at war with each other.
I say this not because there are actual wars in my head (because that would be messy), but because there are a lot of things on which these two parts of my head don’t seem to agree. For one recent example, how I have been handling my friend Alice’s death. The rational part of my mind says to just hold everything inside, to keep from showing how I feel to others because that is only showing them weakness, and showing weakness is inviting attack. The emotional side of my mind, though, is telling me that I have to show my emotions, because by expressing them, I can process them and thus deal with them; holding them in will just lead to stunted emotional growth and an eventual explosion that will almost certainly do more harm than good.
My emotional mind isn’t always the good guy, though. In my relationship with Calla, my rational mind tens to be more, well, rational. Our communications recently have been somewhat distant; I can feel that there is more that she has to say when we talk to each other, but ti doesn’t get said. My emotional mind says that this is all my fault – that I have done or said something to cause her to pull away, that I am continually screwing up in front of her both in word and deed. It tells me to apologize frantically, and act melodramatically (yes, I can be melodramatic), because these things will clearly express to her the degree to which I am sorry for whatever my actions have wrought. My rational mind, though, tells me that I need to take a step back; that what I am seeing as my fault is probably more complicated – that she likely has reasons for not telling me what she is thinking, and that when she feels ready, she’ll tell me. In fact, it tells me that acting too emotionally will likely push her away rather than get her to talk to me.
Trying to find a balance between these two parts of my mind is something called wise mind in treatment – a balanced, or blended, use of both sides of the mind in order to come to the best decisions. Sometimes one part will be right, sometimes the other, and sometimes both will need to be taken into account to make a decision. Knowing when to pay attention to both is a very important treatment skill; it keeps emotions from becoming too dysregulated, and it also keeps someone (in this case, me) from losing touch with their emotions in a way that can be unhealthy and dangerous. It keeps me from descending back into the near-robotic days of my teenage years, or the horrible depressions of later years.
It can be a lot of work, though; only experience (and some good advice from others) can really keep me from making the same mistakes over and over. What seems like a good idea one minute may be totally idiotic when looked at from a different perspective. It reminds me a bit of a theory (about relationships, but it’s close enough for government work) brought up in one of my favorite comedy shows, How I Met your Mother, the Dobler/Dahmer Theory:
When viewed from one side, an idea can seem great, but from the other, terrible. Learning to take a step back and try to figure out which one is currently right – if either – has helped to make my life a lot easier (though it is oddly a lot of work).