I’m Pete Carr. I'm a photographer and this isn't a photography newsletter. This is a form of "Rubber Duck Debugging". Writing helps me process thoughts and work through problems. So I write to my computer about issues relating to mental health and being autistic. I then share it with you fine folk. There's nice photos too. 🖖
This week's photos are from a few days ago. It was a lovely morning and I went for a short walk looking for clouds along the river.
Quieting the mind
Some days my mind is not the best place to be. It is easily triggered, distracted and thrown into chaos by a random memory. All you wanted to do with your day was tick things off your task list but now you have to do that while fighting monsters. Just let me edit some photos without feeling like something I did 15 years ago was bad. It was 15 years ago! There have been other bad things since then. Why that one? No no no no brain don't start listing them! Ugh...
Is it even possible to have a productive day doing creative projects without relieving past trauma every 5 minutes? Maybe. I found a podcast on Slate discussing this very issue. "How to quiet the chatter in your head." The ideas it explored some interesting ideas. It is well worth listening to for the personal experience discussed in it. Plus its nice to hear people talk. I highly recommend it. It's only 30 minutes.
Featuring psychology Professor Ethan Kross and the author of "Chatter: The Voice In Our Head, Why It Matters, and How To Harness It" they discussed 5 ways to quiet your mind. One of which was writing. I should try that. I hear its good.
5 tips to quiet your mind
Write. Don’t worry about grammar. Just write for 15-20 minutes. By writing down your thoughts you can give them structure and ultimately a conclusion.
Give yourself a break from scrutinising the chatter in your head. Imagine it’s like riding the bus. You can’t control who gets on the bus you can control how you interact with them.
Venting has its place and it might feel good but it doesn’t always help. Co-rumination. As good as it feels to have a loved one affirm your feelings it can leave you dwelling on your inner thoughts even more. Instead find someone who can help you consider another perspective or shift the narrative in your head.
Use distanced self talk. Don’t just talk to other people talk to yourself as if you were other people. Using second or third person self talk. “You’re going to make it up this hill” instead of “I’m going to…” “Pete you should do this” rather than “Do this.” Reminds me of Spider-Man Homecoming where Peter Parker is trapped under rubble and he tells Spider-Man to lift the rubble. This helps you get a more useful perspective on your internal dialogue.
Instead of thinking “What if?” Think “So what?” It neutralises the negative thinking and catasrophising. You may not be able to control what thoughts pop into your head but you can control how you act on them.
I found these tips to be really useful. I do use writing to process problems and I have found that to be beneficial. Sometimes I'll write a tweet out and decide that maybe I don't need to put this issue out into the world. So I'll cut/paste it into my journaling app, Day One, instead. I'm trying to be less ranty on twitter. Fine to rant into my journal though.
Talking helps to a degree. It can make you feel good to talk but you maybe don’t cognitively close the issue. Co-rumination. You feel more connected to the person you’re talking to but you also feel emotionally charged without resolution. You need to close the issue.
If none of this works try taking a walk. Focus on something you find awe-inspiring like nature or a work of art. Or organise the space around you. Giving your exterior a sense of tidiness can actually compensate for the messiness in your mind and feel soothing. I found this yesterday. It's been a stressful week and on top of that I had to paint a pipe with rust protection. Ugh. Extra work! It was nice though. The pipe painting was peaceful and calming. A simple task I was able to achieve that saved us nearly £200. I felt good.
There is no paid subscription to this newsletter but there is a tip jar.
“Be bold. Be brave. Be courageous.” Christopher Pike, Captain USS Discovery.
Thank you for taking the time to read this newsletter. I’ll be back. Feel free to subscribe or send to a friend.
I'm streaming photography in various forms on Twitch.tv/petecarr. Stream schedule is Tues/Wed/Fri at 7:30PM GMT and Monday at 2PM GMT. Photography focused but accessible. Friday is a look at art events I've photographed. You can also ask me about autism and there's cat cam too.