When you're someone who thinks a lot, and someone who cares a lot, and someone who wants everything to go as smoothly as possible, it can be hard not to obsess. I can think of three stupid things I've recently done (including but not limited to: losing a textbook, getting my car stuck in a ditch, oversleeping terribly) in which I exerted a ton of energy into stressing out and obsessing over my mistake. By now, I don't really think about those things that much. I was eventually able to accept that I made a mistake and let it go. Obviously, those were fairly trivial examples. With other things, bigger things, letting go can take a really long time. But here's what I try to remember: any disaster, no matter how big, will not feel nearly as disastrous in a month as it feels now. In two months? Even less. In a year? You'll have a completely new set of seemingly more-disastrous things to worry about. Trust me.
But right now, you can't fast-forward to that state of eventual reason. Right now, you're lying in your bed and you really need to fall asleep, but your brain is full of an embarrassing, or shameful, or frustrated itchiness. Here's what you should do (and what I try to do): take a deep breath, a big one, and then exhale.
Let it go.
Also, if you need a bit more to go on than that, all of these things:
- Put in your headphones, lie down, and listen to your favorite song really loudly so it fills your entire head. For me, this is the surest (and possibly, the only) way to stop thinking.
- Watch lots of mindless television. Didn't think you were going to see that bit of wellness advice on a cutesy lifestyle blog, huh? Well, it's a wonderful way to distract from any noisy thoughts. I actually really love watching tv, and I'm not even ashamed.
- Write it all down in your journal really fast, just to get it over with. Then, close your journal, stuff it in some forgotten drawer, and leave your annoying thoughts trapped with it. Empty your brain of whatever is bothering you, and let your journal deal with it.
- Look for people on the internet who have similar experiences and find comfort in the fact that you aren't some disorganized freak; people make mistakes like yours all the time. When I was learning to drive and I discovered what an embarrassingly terrible sense of direction I have, I found a random forum on the internet in which fellow directionally-challenged people were discussing their cringe-y experiences. I think I cried because, in my bubble of anxious obsessing, I had made the rash assumption that I was the only one.
- If all else fails and your obsessing continues, just let yourself obsess for a little while. Let yourself feel uncomfortable or annoyed or regretful. But trust that in a few days, you'll gradually start to feel less bothered. Your disaster will never again be as big as it is right now.