Strange things run around in my head while falling back asleep in the early morning. Today, a full-color picture in my unconscious mind triggered this metaphor: “Oh, the restaurant was exquisite, and except for the dead mouse in the gravy, the meal was the best I’ve ever had.”
Have you ever had a great experience hampered or destroyed by something out of your control or by words and actions from insensitive people? If you are human, alive, and conscious, your honest answer is, “Yes,” “Of course,” or “Absolutely.”
Like dreams and my morning flash, our brains store, organize and spit out clues to our unfinished business, stress, or worries. Semi-conscious moments help us tap into the why and how of what disturbs potentially good days.
The few times we remember and then evaluate such insightful pictures, we have the beginning of small tools to help us move beyond or through the mouse in the gravy.
The first tool is humor. I laughed aloud when I thought about a plate placed in front of me with a dead mouse covered in gravy—I would choose a tornado over a mouse-infested cellar, and I haven’t eaten gravy in years.
The second relevant tool is forcing our thoughts to move past the picture into the future—similar to what helps with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). I am not calling a mouse in the gravy PTSD, but allowing our brain to get stuck at the traumatic moment, in this case, the first sight of a long tail, open eyes, and fat belly, the picture waking me up, is a primary reason we get stuck in the awful moment. As soon as I saw the plate, my total focus flipped to the mouse. Every other detail or person was gone from my awareness. Instantly, pleasant became @#$%^&*—traumatic.
We cannot strategize a bizarre experience with our mind paralyzed in the traumatic moment. We must force our thoughts to move forward to what happened next. Nobody, including me, wants to continually, every day, loop the picture of a gravy-covered mouse.
Because we best remember events with intense emotion, we don’t recall where we put our keys, but we can’t forget the “@#$%^&*” of life.
In my mouse example, since it did not happen, I imagined screaming and jumping up from the chair, causing the table with champagne glasses, china, and candles to crash loudly to the tile floor. At the same time, every other person in the five-star restaurant and I rushed out without paying. I posted the unforgiving experience online and reported it to the health department, who shut them DOWN.
See how it helps? I now think of Karma instead of a greasy rodent.
We cannot avoid painful experiences, but we can move forward with real-life truth—what we learned, our strengthened resiliency, practiced tenacity, and reinvented self. We are only a victim when our thoughts get stuck under the gravy with the mouse.
Until the next time: Live while you live.
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