At 4:30 this morning I woke up, as I usually do, but was unable to fall back to sleep. I remembered that my mother is once again threatening to leave the nursing home and move back in with my sister, despite the fact that she is well cared for in a very nice home. Even she admits it's a nice home, which is a big admission for her. Then I remembered all the other times over the years that she and my father and my sister have made terrible decisions. Of course, when that would happen I'd be angry and frustrated because I care about them and the pain they go through when things go wrong. I always hope they will listen to me or learn from their mistakes, but it seems as if they seldom do. They refuse to plan ahead or anticipate the consequences of their decisions until it's too late and the die has been cast.
Ah well, it's not as if I've never made a bad decision. I do know, though, that many bad decisions are the result of bad brain chemistry. For instance, when I'm in the throes of depression or fear or rage, I just want out of it, and will do anything to make a change to my mood. In the past, I would change my mood by changing my life--quit my job, move to a new state, etc. I've since learned that all I needed to do was make the bad brain chemistry go away. And making it go away is simple--I just do some scanning activity, such as playing Solitaire. Exercise helps too. Or writing, as I'm doing now.
I can't control other people, and I guess I don't really want to. I just want them to know what I know--that brain chemistry is controlling them, but they can do something about it. They can help themselves before they do something they'll regret. They can get a handle on bad brain chemistry.
Of course, knowing what to do and doing it are two different things. Rage is a manifestation of bad brain chemistry that's particularly difficult to control, I've found. When I'm in a rage, I lash out before I can remember that it's just bad brain chemistry, that it's a response to fear, and that how I'm about to respond--yell at my boss or pass on a curve, for instance--is probably way over the top and may be quite risky.
How to keep from letting bad brain chemistry rule? Recognize it for what it is. Don't be fooled by the disguise. What looks like righteous indignation may really be craven fear. What seems like a rational decision based on facts is underneath an irrational decision based on bad brain chemistry and trumped up evidence. Be suspicious of speed. Most decisions don't have to be made immediately, so what's the hurry?
Again, not so easy when the mood is upon me. But I keep working on it. And I'll keep posting my progress here.