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  • Writer's pictureJ.L. Whitehead

When the negative thoughts wont stop

Lately, I have been having a really hard time turning off the negative thoughts that flood my brain at night. Normally, these thoughts occur right after I have settled into bed for the night as I am preparing to get a good night’s sleep. Sometimes, the thoughts disappear just as quickly as they come. Others linger around like the remnants of a bad dream. The thoughts revolve around my mind replaying events that took place over my lifetime. I have thought about how socially awkward I was when I was younger; the mistakes I made because of nothing more than the lack of proper male guidance or making a mental correction of something that I should have done right in the first place.

We as survivors are a special breed. We will beat ourselves up over past mistakes knowing that logically, there is nothing that we can do to correct the error short of making amends to any party(s) we may have offended. In that regard, this can be described as a good thing because it gives us the opportunity to make a wrong, right while also helping us to not make the same mistake again.

Because our emotional trajectory has been altered, we have no idea who we would have become had we not experienced the trauma we suffered. A good portion of us do not realize that damage had been done and as a result continue to act out in ways that may be detrimental to our emotional growth. My choice was to drink, drug and sex too much when I was younger. When I grew up, I stopped sexing…and then later, I stopped the drugs. Lastly came the alcohol.

I have learned how to drink in moderation and not get mind-bending, near blackout drunk. I realize that I was not nice to people when I was drunk; and to use the words that my father told me, “I looked in the mirror one day and didn’t like what I saw.”

I was fortunate enough to not only make the correlation between what happened to me when I was thirteen and my mind sight throughout my adult life. I know that I was not at fault for what happened to me way back when. But sometimes, despite that knowledge, I cannot turn off the negative thoughts.

If you are like me and you cannot stop replaying the mistakes and missteps in your life, I want to let you know that you are not alone. Sometimes, the negative thoughts are so real, you think that what happened occurred yesterday. Other times, the mistakes you made are so far in your past, you dismiss them with relative ease only for a similar thought to come

back the next night. Some of us tend to beat ourselves up over the thoughts of a particularly embarrassing incident that may have happened in our past. And while there is nothing wrong with recalling incidents of things that you may have said or done; it really comes down to your reasons why you are thinking the way you do.

Sometimes, with us as survivors, our emotions can be all over the place. Sometimes, it can feel like playing a game of emotional checkers or chess. But like everything, we can choose to be who we want to be. We can let the negative thoughts envelope us or we can rise above it and allow the thoughts to make us a better person.

If an incident occurred say when you were in your teens…and like me, you are in your thirties, forties, or fifties; there is nothing that you can do to change what happened. You cannot take back your words or deeds. You must let the past remain in the past and concentrate on what you have learned that makes you a better person.

Remember you are a survivor. You have survived the unthinkable. You are not at fault for what happened. You have grown up to be an amazing person with so much to offer the world. Shifting the focus off what your mind is telling you and what you know in your heart to be true can be tricky. Even with my becoming an activist and a speaker, I still struggle with negative thoughts. But even with those thoughts that may creep up on me from time to time, I am comfortable with who I am and who I want to be. You know the old saying that “the devil is a liar?”

Well, he is.

Negativity is not in your DNA. Remember that you are a survivor.

I know I will.

~ J.L. Whitehead

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