Today Paolo Coelho posted a quote on Facebook that I’m sure was just for me: “Stop turning on your emotional television to watch the same program over and over again, the one that shows how much you suffered from a certain loss: that is only poisoning you, nothing else.” It stopped me in my tracks. How did he know I do that all the time? He doesn’t even know me. Could this mean that I’m not the only one who does this? I can spend hours of mental and emotional energy replaying certain people’s actions, re-examining my own role in any situation. I usually do not come up blameless, just pathetically inept or not up to my own expectations. I have these ongoing conversations with people who I think need to know how I feel, but they are always just played on my emotional television. Never in person. I’m really an elegant speaker on that channel. I never forget a point, and my thoughts are always really well organized so they make perfect sense. No trace of my hurt feelings is evident. I admit my own shortcomings and then point out those of my adversary fellow conversation participant, but in a way that won’t make them feel hurt or defensive. When I point out faults, the people on my emotional TV channel thank me and recognize the correctness of my words.
I think that I don’t need to really talk to the other person in real life because I can work it out in my head and heart and resolve it there. I mean, the issue is really mine, right? No one else is even thinking about me or my reaction to something they don’t even remember. So I should be able to just resolve things within my own conflicted self. Except that doesn’t happen. Or hardly ever does it happen. No, I just keep playing and playing the same emotional sitcom, sometimes for years. Sometimes I wish that someone else would remember and say, “Hey, remember that thing that happened? I’m feeling badly about it, and thought maybe we could talk about it.” But of course that doesn’t ever happen, because the trauma is mine.
So, it brings me back to the quote. How does one turn off that emotional television that is stuck on only one channel? Any ideas, anyone?