Friday, 7 March 2014

Me. The Great Catastrophiser?


"There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."  William Shakespeare.  I have to disagree.

Catastrophizing.  Something I am excellent at.  Turning what some might call one incident of bad luck into the beginning of the end of the world.  Or is it just that I have more bad luck than your average person?
Take Monday as an example.  I was headed up the road, listening to my upbeat music and really quite positive for a Monday morning, when I realised I didn’t have my season ticket in my pocket.  Not the end of the world.  I get to the station 30 minutes before the train leaves anyway, so I had plenty of time to go back, get my ticket and make that same train.  I turned on my heels and walked back towards my flat.

When I got back and checked the usual places that I put my ticket, my weekend handbag, the chest of drawers, on the chair, I couldn't locate it.  Feeling a little annoyed at that point because I was definitely not going to make the 7.27, my usual train but, still thinking good … I get a train far earlier into work than I need to just in case something like that happens so could get on the 7.57 instead.
After 10 minutes of searching, the ticket was nowhere to be seen and I couldn’t waste any more time.  I needed to report my lost ticket and buy a one day return ticket before making the next train so ..I continued to think good, keep calm and made an executive decision to head back to the station immediately. 

When I informed Wendy at the ticket office that I had lost my season ticket she looked at me like a criminal instructing me to fill out a form.  She said they would call me and interview me and then make a decision as to whether she can reissue my ticket.  WTEck?!  I paid 3 grand for that damned ticket and they are going to decide whether they will reissue my ticket?!  (Not such good thinking at this point) I am a little close to tears (pathetic but still, it’s where I am at now because, having being so prepared and organised this was crap, I mean, isn’t forward planning like that good positive thinking? What more could I have done?). 
She informs me that I can purchase a weekly ticket for the time being (how kind) and then claim back the money once the decision is made IF it is made in my favour.  I’m effectively out on bail and allowed to travel on the train for a week until my case is heard.  I agree to buy a weekly ticket.  Positive.  I can still make that 7.57 train and arrive at the office on time. 

‘Do you have a photo?’ I look over my shoulder for a photo booth.  I don’t carry passport photos surprisingly.
‘Urm no. I don’t’

‘Then you can’t have a weekly ticket.' So matter of fact.  'You will have to pay full fare today’ She actually sounded quite pleased with herself.  Punishment.
I grumble a little and pay for the ticket.  I get on the train and spend the next 48 minutes unable to listen to my music because I am too mad.  I try to repeat in my head how I am going to be on time for work.  It's only a ticket.  It will be replaced.  All I can hear is 'it was my expensive wallet gone forever, oh and the newly topped up Oyster card … urgh nothing ever goes right for me….what will be next....?' I got my negativity in check just as we pulled into Liverpool Street.  It was just one silly little mistake that everyone makes.  URGH the card holder was Smythson!  My Oyster card ….. not to mention the thief that must have found my wallet .... why would they not hand it in?  Thieves!

I got to the office.  Later than normal but, on time.  I got into my routine ignoring the annoying voice in my head reminding me I had lost my ticket.  Checked my calendar and there it was.  I’d missed an 8.45 a.m. meeting.  I never have anything scheduled that early on Monday's but wouldn’t you know it that day it was right there.  Now colleagues would think I am flaky.  My record for never ever being late to a meeting tarnished.  And all the planning in the world still made me later than usual and late for that meeting.  No big deal.  Again I did get the bad thinking in check and actually brush it off.  No one died.  Go to make my porridge.  Drop the porridge on my new suede shoes.   Ggggrrrrrrrrrrrr
I continued through the rest of my day.  Finally when my work day was over I was out of that door and on that train. Thinking, home cooked dinner, hot shower, glass of wine, early night and a new day tomorrow.  Nothing but good old positive thinking right? 

Then, as the train pulled out of the station, the ticket inspectors appeared through the door at the end of the carriage.  In rush hour when there isn't even any standing room.  When does that happen? Let me tell you exactly when that happens.  Never.  Until yesterday that is.  Surprise I now couldn't find my ticket! After 5 mins of searching and getting to the point of tears, is this day ever going to end?! the man next to me points to the floor and there are my outward and return tickets.  Somehow they had fallen out of my pocket.  How?  Well I didn’t ‘think’ them there!!!  Bad luck.  Nothing but bad luck.  
Finally got through my front door.  Put dinner in the oven, then just had to do one more search for my ticket.  No luck.  Relax.  Reach for my favourite wine glass.  It fell from the cupboard and smashed into a million pieces along with my good thinking.  Good thinking had got me NOWHERE all day. Bad thinking is more satisfying sometimes.

My point is that I tried damned hard to think Monday good and it just didn’t work.  I don’t believe my thinking could have caused me to lose my season ticket, not have a spare photo on me for a weekly ticket, nor could good thinking have stopped my tickets from falling out of my pocket just before the ticket inspectors got on the train during rush hour.  I don't believe my thinking could have caused my wine glass to throw itself out of the cupboard.  These things are not controlled by thinking but rather, plain old bad luck!  The world is against me on some days.  It is terrible and awful and unfair and I want to cry.  The only thing that could possibly help these things to not happen on those days is for me to go to bed and stay there until the day is over and the bad luck passes.

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