Welcome back to the only mental health and family blog that repeatedly reminds you that you aren’t the only one who struggles and also offers you unusual ways to manage those struggles.
In this post, I present to you a skill I like to refer to as “playing reporter.” “Playing reporter” is a form of mindfulness in which a person manages to force a sense of “detachment” from a difficult situation by describing it as it is happening.
Much like an on-scene reporter observes a moment through a detached lens without making any assumptions or emotional conclusions, it is sometimes helpful to “tell” only the objective details of a situation. This is usually practiced “news reporter style,” although the other night I practiced this skill using “wanna-be-comedian style.”
A few nights ago, I attempted to assemble our 7-foot artificial Christmas tree while my engineer husband was out of town. To keep from setting fire to the tree and/or sinking into a puddle of rageful tears, I practiced a little detached reporting in my head. (Truth be told, a lot of bloggers do this. They just call it “writing a blog post in my mind.” Why do you think there are so many mommy bloggers? Because they dream up what to write as a means of mentally detaching during the utterly boring and/or utterly frustrating moments of parenting.)
Anyway, here’s the tutorial I came up with:
How to put up your artificial tree if your tree is a goliath and you are mechanically inept:
1) Sweat balls of holly as you drag 100 lbs of festive dead weight up your basement stairs.
2) Spend 35 frustrated minutes arranging branches in a confused array of leg-lampish formations. (Playing reporter includes describing specific details of your experience instead of interpretations of the experience.)
3) While bent over, hear five-year old alter lyrics of jingle bells to include reference to the odor of mom’s booty.
4) Fantasize about poisoning your husband’s egg nog for being away on business as your christmasshole kids demand that you go faster, faster, faster. (Playing reporter includes observing and describing exactly what you notice yourself think/feel without adding any assumptions or interpretations.)
5) Hold your breath as you shove your face into narnia to find the damn light sockets. Locate three plugs, no sockets, and six spiders.
6) Finally scream “Jesus Christ!” in desperation, only to be followed by a 7 yr old’s melodic voice: “is born the newborn king!” Turn your attention to the smug and cheerful child, only to frighten him with all the bloody pine needle carvings in your cheeks.
7) Finally walk away from the heap of unassembled wreckage to pour yourself a yuletide thermos of
Pino Grigio something delicious and healthy. Like soup. Yah, soup. Since this is a blog written by a psychologist who never thinks numbing feelings is a good habit to get into….What’s that? You say you don’t tend to avoid or numb your emotions? Then fine. Put the soup can back in the pantry.
So. Remember “playing reporter” the next time you find yourself up against the Goliath in your life (whether it be the laundry, the presentation, the perfect holiday dinner, the not losing your head when your kid throws a stuffed animal INTO your open paint can while your husband flatly comments “that’s what happens when you paint around little kids.”… Anyway.).
Signed, the lady who, despite being the type of person who first learned how to correctly hang a curtain rod at age 33, was able to resist negative self-talk about her mechanical shortcommings by “playing reporter,” and thus was eventually able to conquer that damn behemoth of foliage. Also known as the lady who would rather see anyone pretend to be a newscaster than see them get bogged down by personalizations, assumptions, and catastrophic conclusions.
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