Living Inside Your Head

Yesterday I was tired, out of sorts, and frustrated with being unable to think clearly. Today, as I woke up and slowly the brain came back online fully, I realized that part of my problem yesterday was that I wasn’t able to live inside my head. Given that a hot shower and hot tea had gone a long way toward solving the problem (and jogging a scene out of my head for one of the works in progress) I suspect a large part of the problem was simply my congested sinuses. The rest of it was simple fatigue: I haven’t been sleeping well. I’m rarely troubled with nightmares, but the common trigger for them is stress, and having a death so close to the family has certainly triggered my uncertainty on some things.

Living inside your head is the ability to think on your feet, react to whatever life throws at you: whether that is a work assignment, or the crazy driver on your daily commute. I’ve discovered over the years that when I’m not fully inside my own head, I’m fuzzy and my reaction time is much too slow. Of course, there is a flip side to this, because when I have retreated too far (arms and legs inside the ride at all times: buckle up!) I’m not connected to the exterior world well enough to react quickly, either. I have a good use for those directed daydreams, of course. I write them down, and sometimes people enjoy reading them. I have whole worlds inside my head that I can play in.

There’s a balance, obviously to living in one’s head, and withdrawing from the world into your own imagination. Both have their times and purposes. But when you can’t live in your own head you lose the ability to self-analyze. Self-analysis is another of those tools that can paralyze, or free, your ability to act and react. In the sense of freedom, it gives you the ability to rewind a little: make a mistake, look back and think, what did I do? Why did I do that? How can I correct that for the next time? But if you aren’t fully online, then you can’t visualize your thoughts and actions.

I’m doing this off the top of my head, by the way, rather than taking the time (which I don’t have) to look up scholarly sources on this. Just four decades of screwing up, figuring out why, and correcting course. And that’s why I don’t like operating on autopilot like I was yesterday: I can’t correct course if I don’t know where I went off course. Rarely, if I’m able, I’ll ask for help from the First Reader, or friends, because getting a more objective analysis is helpful. But that’s not always possible, and besides, I have this thing where I hate to be a bother.

I find when I’m outside myself, that sleep and music help. That’s what I did yesterday, anyway. I get short-tempered when I’m out of sorts, too. So avoiding my family isn’t because I don’t want to be with them – it’s because I don’t want to snap at them. It doesn’t last long, at least, and I find that a night’s sleep resets me most times. Today I’m back to myself and back to work with a clear mind, able to be useful.


5 responses to “Living Inside Your Head”

  1. Barry Singer Avatar
    Barry Singer

    Times like that I hate everyone and everything. Then I listen to some good Jazz and people are again tolerable. Or if music doesn’t work, Willy S. has never failed me, especially with Hamlet or Macbeth

    1. Shakespeare hadn’t occurred to me yesterday, but sounds like something to try next time. I have a love-hate relationship with Jazz. Some is wonderful, some is jarring. I was listening to The Dead South, Mean Mary, and a noir playlist on YouTube last night.

  2. Are you able to get into this mindset while carrying out mundane tasks or at work, or is this an overarching mindset that you need a priori in order to effectively carry out mundane tasks and work?

    1. I can carry out mundane tasks and most of work when I’m stuffed up and out of sorts – it’s just not my best work. And when I’m writing, it’s a whole different thing (although I do manage that at work, because some of what I do doesn’t need me to be creative, just to carry out the, ah, recipe, as it were).

  3. Tell me about lack of sleep and nightmares. :/
    Been having that issue lately and it’s not nice or pretty. Doesn’t help that the person that has become my reality anchor is currently out of touch due to technical problems. Written words have gotten dark and ugly. Maybe it’s the time of year or maybe it’s just stress. I just keep telling my self that ‘This too, shall pass’.