How NOT to be Crazy: A Case Study

by P. Braithwaite


The following is a personal case study that happened over the span of approximately 2 hours. It is broken down into 34 steps for your convenience.

Patia, preparing to visit her parents on Long Island, goes out to get into her car.

1. She can’t remember where she parks. (frustration)
2. She sees the delivery guy from her favorite neighborhood noodle shop, and realizes she wants Udon (desire and hunger)
3. She remembers where she parked. (elation)
4. She also remembers that she forgot to move her car on Friday and she might have a ticket. (worry)
5. She chastises herself on the way to the car. (self-loathing)
6. She locates her car. (cautious elation)
7. She approaches her car and discovers that somehow, though she was parked on the wrong side of the street, she didn’t get a ticket. (joy)
8. She opens her car door and finds a three inch puddle on her driver’s side seat. (intense anger bordering on raging tears)
9. She calls her father. (Learned helplessness)
10. No answer. (anger)
11. She walks to the store to get some cheap towels. (irritation)
12. She thinks, “Hey maybe Century 21 will have a wet vac.” (optimism)
13. The guy at Century 21 looks at her like she’s crazy, and informs her that they don’t sell wet vacs. (sadness and slight embarrassment)
14. She remembers her father telling her that the car was fine. (anger)
15. She calls her father again. No answer. (rage)
16. She thinks about using her ex-boyfriend’s clothes to clean the puddle (rage giving way to mean-spirited amusement)
17. She decides they probably won’t absorb the puddle. (resurgence of anger)
18. She calls her parent’s house and blames them for her problem (temporary calm)
19. She remembers she’s 30 and responsible for her own car (shame and remorse)
20. She sits on a bench and prays (relative calm)
21. She google searches “handheld wet/vac” and discovers PC Richards carries such items. (optimism)
22. She thanks God and congratulates herself for praying.(still happy)
23. She remembers that it is Sunday and PC Richards might be closed. (worry)
24. She hastily moves through the crowded street hoping she gets there in time. (angst)
25. She shows up and it’s open. (relief)
26. She flirts with the unattractive shop guy who is helping her. (smugness)
27. She pays for a wet vac and frets about her finances. (angst)
28. She chastises herself for not being able to afford a wet vac without worry.(shame)
29. She realizes she’s going to have to charge this vacuum before using it.(irritation)
30. She realizes she’s exhausted from all these emotions. (amusement)
31. She sits down on her stoop to look at the directions. (Relief)
32. She realizes she’s looking at the Spanish directions. (irritation)
33. She finds the English directions and realizes that she cannot use the vacuum for approximately 24 hours. (irritation giving way to amusement)
34. She decides the universe wants her to stay home order Udon, sit on the couch and write a blog post about emotions. (Calm)

The lesson: we create our own drama and we’re fully committed to the role. When we commit to the whims of external forces a special kind of craziness erupts…

I’m learning more and more that, external circumstances do not have to dictate our internal state. When we’re on auto-pilot, we become a slave to external forces. We’re blown in every direction, if we don’t take the time to bring awareness to our inner selves. “She made me angry” we declare, or “This situation ruined my day.”

That’s bullshit.

If we realize that external conditions don’t really dictate our mood… we can choose how we’re seeing a given situation. There’s a lesson (and a potential blog post) in everything that happens, and when we slow down and breathe into it, we discover that things, at the very least, are manageable

All the time. Not matter how large or small. If we simply slow down, we’ll find our calm.

I’m learning this.
In real time.
From my couch.
Rest assured, my delivery guy is on the way. 🙂