Identify Your Unbearable Affects

To corral the unbearable affects you first need to know what they are. Here’s what we do. Spend 15-20 minutes a day alone with your thoughts. Track down the moment when you start feeling uncomfortable, bored, anxious, guilty, etc. Then write down what happened right before the uncomfortable moment. What thoughts, images, words, voices, etc passed through your brain right before that moment.

As a result of the exercise repeated over the course of a few days, you’ll have a list of your unbearable affects. Then we’ll talk about the next step.


10 thoughts on “Identify Your Unbearable Affects

  1. “alone with your thoughts”

    Being alone with my thoughts is my happy place…. I’ve probably subconsciously worked out ways to keep negative thoughts detoured around that without troubling me….

    ” uncomfortable, bored, anxious, guilty, etc”

    Those happen when doing work I don’t want to do (any work has its downsides) or meeting people I don’t want to meet or being frustrated in daily tasks… so it’s too easy for me to pin that on an immediate cause.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You are describing the healthy scenario that should be everybody’s goal.

      If your own thoughts aren’t a happy place, then what you are experiencing isn’t “procrastination”, as many people think. And what you need is not “willpower.” There’s a much deeper issue and this incorrect terminology only creates confusion.


      1. I don’t think enjoying your own company is quite the same as having a completely healthy psyche, though. I crave time with my own thoughts, it’s just in short supply since kids. I don’t at all find that time difficult when I can get it– it is a blessed relief! That does not make me free of issues I need to deal with. It seems like a good start on things, but perhaps an oversimple model.


        1. “don’t think enjoying your own company is quite the same as having a completely healthy psyche”

          Oh, lordie no…. I know I have unbearable affects but they’re good enough at hiding (and I enjoy thinking about random things in solitude enough) that the method that works for a lot of people won’t necessarily work for me.


            1. Of course, one can have all sorts of issues. I’m not promising a complete cure. 🙂 But there are so many people who can’t stand even a half hour with their own thoughts. Plus, there are those who aren’t even aware they can’t stand to be left alone with their own psyche. They are like the “I can quit whenever I like” folks.

              I started this whole discussion because I have to mentor a colleague who’s driving me up a wall with his “I’m just so lazy, I just need more willpower to stop procrastinating” when that’s clearly not the issue. It’s really never the issue. People have unlimited energy to do what they want to do.


          1. If anything, I find that it is other people who bring out my un-dealt-with issues, not being alone.

            Lately, I’m having a devilish time with a lady at church– I need her cooperation to get something I want, but every interaction I have with her, however brief, I come away with the feeling I’ve offended her, or otherwise been irritating, or stepped on her metaphorical toes. Not surprising– I am frequently irritating and tactless, and she seems a very high-strung tense sort of person. Extremely defensive, and constantly failing to answer the question I asked, and instead answering, apparently, the question she thought I was going to ask based on some weird set of assumptions she has about me. I don’t know how to work with this, and it makes me batty.

            Usually when I encounter something like this, I just avoid the person. Like I said, I’m irritating and tactless. Most people don’t tolerate me in close quarters, but there are always a few, and why waste time on the rest? In this case, I can’t. Or rather, it’d cost me a lot to avoid this person, and I might end up having to go to another church if I botch things badly enough. Every 2-minute, surface-polite conversation with this person results in 1-2 days of being in a crap/meltdown mental space at home, doing post-mortem analysis on the interaction, trying to figure out where it went wrong and why.

            This is clearly unhealthy. But I am getting better at stuffing my social anxieties back in their box– the time required to rescue my sanity is getting shorter, and I’m gradually forming a working model of the nature of the conflict, and thinking through various strategies for dealing with it.

            Perhaps God is asking me to work on compassion and patience. It is like when you ask for humility, and invariably what do you get? Humiliation. Some of us hard-skulls can’t get there without it. Builds character, etc. etc.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. I’m having a similar issue with a colleague. I’m trying to disconnect from the situation emotionally which is hard when I receive strings of emails and complaints daily from that person. I’m mostly managing it until she starts picking on our non-tenured colleague who is very sweet, kind and gentle. I’m very aware that this provokes me because it takes me straight into the dynamic between my parents where my mother would throw a fit and my father had to beg her for forgiveness. I also realize I’m reacting so strongly because of my father’s recent death. Defending the non-tenured colleague is a way of symbolically protecting my dad. But it’s also the right thing to do because he can’t stand up for himself. He’s in a completely dependent position.

              I don’t know how to resolve this right now but I definitely understand what you mean.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. oof. At least there are no bystanders involved in my difficulty! God be praised for small mercies. Definitely I need to work on detaching my emotions from the situation. It is most frustrating because this person is a gatekeeper– there are some music resources I need/want access to, she controls the access, and after the first few rebuffs, it has become increasingly difficult to view her as a living, breathing human being, instead of just an obstacle. Therein, I think, lies the real challenge: it’s not about her, it’s not even about whether I get the access I want… maybe it’s about whether I can resist the urge to dehumanize others in the face of possibly-intractable differences.

                Liked by 1 person

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