You send a message and start to wait while you continue what you're doing. But in the back of your mind you wait for that "Ping"....
You check your phone, your Email box and nothing happened.
Ok, maybe they are busy, you think......but you continue to wait and inside of you some pattern emerges.
You begin to wonder if everything is ok.
You think back to anything possible that may have offended or upset them. Did I overlook something?
Are they mad at me?
There was this slight tone in their last message I read...
They are certainly mad at me and now they ignore me.
The story in your mind grows and gets bigger and bigger, so the thing you were doing initially isn't that fun any longer, you get annoyed and insecure. The wait and the film you are directing in your head take over the rest of the day.
A film that looks familiar to you, old thoughts come up, things you used to believe about yourself, and there you have it. The proof! Well, you must have done something wrong, there is definitely something wrong with you, of course, the whole YOU is wrong. You knew it all along.
And then they respond....as if nothing happened....
You feel relieved and begin to beat yourself up for having ruined your mood and maybe even the mood of others nearby.
This is very unhelpful overthinking and most of us know it in one way or another.
So what can we do about it?
Let us just assume, for starters, people are meaning it well in general and with us. Their intent is positive. They are doing the best they can and the world doesn't evolve around us anyway...they will respond, when they have time or when they see the message. The last message you READ doesn't have a tone, never can have. You add it in your head and off you go.
The perspective we take is paramount. Taking the example above..If I think, they are ignoring me, because I might have said or done something wrong or I am wrong in general, I set the negative perspective right from the start. My feelings and actions will be part of that negative thought construct. And then it gets difficult to escape.
If I just think, they are busy and will get back to me in their own time, everything is ok, I am calm and go about my day in a positive way. My feelings and actions are not negatively affected by my thoughts.
Even if it turns out in the end, that I did something wrong, I haven't ruined hours or maybe even days beating myself up. And the communication that follows, begins from a different emotion than annoyance and insecurity.
Awareness is key!
Awareness of the kind of constructs you are creating for yourself. Awareness that it is thinking in the first place. Awareness that your thoughts are the only thing that make you feel bad.
And when you find yourself thinking yourself into doom and gloom, remember to change perspective. "Can there be another reason for them not replying?" could be a question to ask in that moment to shift from darkness to neutral or even relief.
As long as you don't know, you think and nothing more.
You cannot necessarily control the thoughts you think, no one can, but you have the choice to respond from a place of negative or positive assumptions for your own peace of mind.