My children and I have adopted the use of “Crazy Town” as a way to signal one another that we are yielding to circular thinking that is taking us to a place we do not want to be. For example, if I am sharing something with one of them that upsets me and I begin to repeat or get too emotional, I am politely interrupted with “Mom, now you’re just going to Crazy Town.” It is said quietly and clearly and followed by silence. It is also very effective.
When I am alone and headed toward Crazy Town, I know I must quickly shift gears and give my left brain some kind of a task to perform. For me, playing solitaire can be very effective and even has a zen quality to it at times. Working in my yard is another way to avoid that trip that leads only to inner turmoil and unhappiness. At other times, I stroll through the neighborhood and take mindful notice of flowers that have bloomed since the last time I noticed. I watch squirrels and birds. I pray for others to get my mind of myself. When it is particularly intense, I power walk until I am breathless and then I slow down just enough to notice that my mind is present and I can plan my day as I look forward to a hot shower when I return home.
Each of us who has been to Crazy Town must first learn to recognize the early signs of heading in that direction. Listen to your self-talk or to what you are saying to someone else. What does your voice sound like? Is it truly problem-solving or is it gnawing on the details endlessly? Is it calm and informative or are you whining or complaining about your fate? Do you hear yourself repeating the story? The sooner you catch yourself, the more quickly you can find your exit off that highway to nowhere.
Give yourself a chance to make a u-turn. Understand that this also is a process of learning different, more effective behaviors. Be gentle and kind to yourself. At some point you will realize it has been weeks, even months, since you have gone to Crazy Town – hurray!