Since becoming single again, Neville (my mind) has turned into A Horrible Bastard x 106.
When I walk past any mirror (ESPECIALLY mirrors in airport bathrooms – which I’ve seen tonnes of lately), Neville kicks off.
Look at the state of you. Your forehead looks disgusting. Look – LOOK at that woman’s forehead over there. All smooth and nice. Now look at yours. Gah!
Who is EVER going to love you now? You’re past your prime.
Oh Jesus Christ, are you crying in public again you madzer? Now you’re going to be old AND red looking.
You may as well start accumulating cats now.”
“But Neville”, I plead with him, “I don’t really like cats…”
“Fine, you can be a spinster of the boxer dog variety,” he concedes.
“But only because they’re as wrinkly as you.”
It’s been many, many years since Neville has been so wildly out of control and so full of vitriol.
I knew the break up was going to be hard, but I felt sure I would handle it well with all my mindfulness ninja tricks to help me feel the grief and let it move through me with ease and grace.
Which I have been doing, in between bouts of Bumble rampagery.
But what I didn’t expect, was how strong (and mean) Neville would become.
Take away my loving relationship, and Neville spirals out of control. Who knew?
I’ve watched him gain momentum over the last few months since BGC and I broke up, picking up steam to the point where
I routinely find myself utterly convinced I will never meet anyone wonderful ever again, and if I do, they won’t like my forehead.
Which I know is ridiculous really – at least – I know from past experience that what I see in the mirror is quite distorted compared to what other people seem to see. I even have some proof of not being able to trust what I see in the mirror – I used to think I was supremely ugly in my teens and 20s, and now I look back and think, jeez, I was quite pretty back then, what was I thinking?!
But still, it feels very real when Neville is in one of his moods, which are tidal at the moment.
No amount of meditation, yoga, gratitude journaling, green smoothies and namaste om shantis are any match for Neville’s rants.
In these times it can be easy to try to fight with our mind, to tell him/her to shut it, or to build a counter argument.
But fighting with the mind never ends well for anyone.
When I fight Neville, he puts on his XXL Horrible Bastard suit and smacks me over the head.
I’ve been doing this for long enough to know that Neville’s horrible bastardness actually comes from a good place.
We all just want to be loved and seen and understood. With BGC, I had that for five wonderful years, and then just like that, it was gone.
(Well maybe not entirely gone, we still see and love and understand each other… just from further away.)
So of course, with my love-security-blanket removed, Neville is freaking out.
After our basic survival needs are met, all the mind cares about is love and belonging and connection.
So you can’t blame it for panicking when we perceive that we lose some of those things. When we go through a break up, or lose a friend, or when a loved one dies, the mind goes into overdrive trying to protect us.
Neville, like all minds, is just very, very terrible at giving good advice when I’m down.
He’s the friend that sees you crying and says the exact wrong thing at the exact wrong time.
But he has good (survival based) intentions.
So, despite my instincts, I don’t try to fight Neville anymore. I notice his rants, and try to notice the fear that is fuelling them.
I hold my attention in the sensations of fear or sadness in my chest, and allow them to be there. I become curious about the sensations. A pressure in my upper chest, a gripping in my throat, a pressure behind my eyes…
This helps me remove my attention from the rumination, and focus on the present.
I’ll also admit to using a self compassion technique that I used to think was bollocks but now rely on quite heavily –
I put one hand over my chest to comfort myself (and Neville).
And I tell Neville, “Mate, I know you’re scared. It’s ok. I’ve got you.”
And then I redirect my attention into the present moment, by focusing on the aforementioned sensations in my body, or one of my 5 senses.
Because whilst I don’t want to fight my mind, I also don’t want to fuel him with my attention.
Next time you notice yourself at war with your mind, give it a go.