When the DJ in your head is playing all the right tracks for a one-woman pity party, don’t put up with it. Reach for the dial and re-tune your radio!
What is it about Sunday afternoons that is so conducive to the blues? A rainy, uneventful, there’s-only-Formula-One-on-TV Sunday afternoon can turn even the most staunchly upbeat among us into quivering wrecks. Maybe it’s the return to work the next day, maybe it’s a tendency towards inactivity on our day of rest, but whatever the cause, the outcome can be gruesome. All you need is a dull or stressful week, a not-so-fun Saturday night, and, what the hell, let’s throw in a bad night’s sleep for good measure, and you have got yourself all the ingredients for a one-woman pity par-tay!
An example: A friend (let’s call her Rebecca) recently called me one Sunday afternoon claiming to be the devil incarnate. She never actually tried to make me believe she had horns and a tail, but she was trying to convince me that she was the worst person on the planet. In her version of things, she was stupid, uninteresting, boring, often jealous of others, unlikely to get on in her chosen career, hobby-less…oh, and I nearly forgot, clinically obese and terminally hideous, with – of course – no chance of attracting a decent chap, ever. Oh yes, people, hers was a tale of far greater woe than Juliet and her Romeo.
As I listened patiently, as a good friend should, I tried to feel compassion, but, strangely, could only feel myself getting angry. All I could think was: How dare you talk about my (kind, talented, gorgeous) friend this way? How dare someone insult and belittle another person so badly, what’s more, saying things that are clearly untrue? I felt the need to defend my friend – from herself! Forcing back the urge to wade in and say as much, I asked Rebecca to repeat her grievances, this time using the second person pronoun and thinking about me. Puzzled, she began… “You’re ugly, flabby, you’ll never meet anyone, you’ll spend the rest of your life alone”, but within seconds she had to stop. She simply couldn’t say such cruel things to me. That’s when she realised – there wasn’t another person on the planet to whom she would speak in this vile manner apart from herself.
While Rebecca is an extreme example of the glums, we’ve all been there, hopefully to a lesser extent. Whatever the day of the week, we all have times when ‘Radio Me FM’ tunes itself in to the worst DJ ever, whose nasty little voice hits the airwaves with a steady stream of: “Your life is a mess, girl. Do you seriously think they’ll take you seriously with that hair? Hey hey, someone’s been skipping the gym this week – no, I mean this decade!” ‘Radio Me FM’ has the ability to say things that we’d never dream of saying about a friend, a stranger, even an enemy. It’s true that we are always at our harshest when judging ourselves.
So, what’s the quickest way to switch off the idiot DJ on Radio Me FM and tune into something a little more easy-listening? Everyone’s technique is different, I suppose. You could try imagining your DJ as a vile Gollum-esque creature, robbing him of all his power by giving him a painfully whiney little voice. You could also imagine repeating your horrible inner monologue to yourself as a child – unpleasant, right? Or simply write down your thoughts in the second person and recite them to a photo of a dear friend. Yes, I know, these things are somewhat gut-wrenching, but that’s the point. They are all ways of changing the target of your nasty thoughts to remind you that you would never address anyone else in this manner – and therefore that you shouldn’t talk to yourself that way either.
My own strategy is remarkably simple yet highly effective. It involves using that most soothing of voices – my mother’s. I was once spinning my own tale of woe to her (yes, it was indeed on a Sunday afternoon), and covering some serious ground. Instead of refuting each of my complaints one by one, my wise mother simply replied, “Please don’t talk about my beautiful daughter that way”. Her words gave me pause. She was right – I was insulting her only child, someone she cherished and nurtured. How often do you insult someone to their own mother’s face? Those of you with siblings may answer, “erm…frequently – my brother was always telling on me, and my sister – don’t even go there!” but as an only child I can safely say, I never have. So now, whenever I feel the dial (I know, so analogue!) turning towards ‘Radio Me FM’, I hear my mother’s dulcet tones reminding the DJ to choose her words carefully when talking about the daughter she loves.