“To rehearse imaginary conversations on paper is called literature. To do so out loud is called madness.” – Philip Sington
You are upset with a friend who has done something to you that feels so wrong. You haven’t talked with him yet about the situation and are unsure of what you’re going to tell him. What do you do? You rehearse the conversation in your mind.
The rehearsal gets played out in a variety of ways. In one scenario, you demonstrate how angry you are by coming up with the perfect zinger, telling yourself “that will show him”. Or you apply a guilt-provoking statement so that he can feel really bad about what he did. Or you attempt to play diplomat and appear reasonable.
These rehearsals can get quite elaborate, depending on the situation and how many scenarios you play out in your mind. You may even do the dialogue for your friend, after all, he’s not around physically to play the part – so you start imagining what he’s going to tell you in response.
Sounds silly doesn’t it? However everyone I’ve ever known including myself has done this behavior. What’s the problem? The problem is that the real conversation has not even taken place yet and depending on how long you’ve sat in this emotional stew, your anxiety and emotional states are likely heightened. The brain and body do not distinguish the difference between a real or imagined conversation – the same emotional triggers can and do occur either way.
Did you ever do this and then discover the real interaction was nothing like the imagined one? I have found myself really furious with someone in my mind and then when I have the actual conversation, I find out details I was not aware of, which then alters my thinking and my understanding of the situation.
As much as we might believe a rehearsal will be helpful, it’s even more helpful to free our minds. Just imagine what you could do with the free time?
This is part 15 of the series Meditations on Wellbeing. In this series Psychotherapist and Life Coach Richard Killion shares experiences from his corner of the world. Enjoy his succinct, insightful bits about human behavior and mental wellbeing.
About the Author
Richard Killion is a Licensed Psychotherapist and Life Coach with over 18 years of experience consulting individuals, groups and organizations. From a coaching perspective, Richard helps people succeed with life transitions. As a therapist he works with clients needing assistance with anxiety, depression, grief and loss, relationship issues and communications.