I have poison ivy. During the day I’m able, sort of, to distract from the constant itch. I want to scratch but I refuse to give in to the temptation. But at night, the itch seems to quadruple in strength. It screams at me: “Scratch me NOW!” And without much thought, I scratch away. Further, itches appear in other spots and I begin to wonder if I will have breakouts elsewhere. Did I touch my eye? What if it shows up there? Oh, and there’s that itch in my groin…” Certainly my mood takes a hit.
This experience got me thinking about cognitive/emotional and relational “itches” that all of us have. They may be desires, fears, beliefs, etc. During the day work enables us to set them aside for a time. But then evening arrives and with less to distract us, they come rushing at us with a vengeance. And we begin to scratch at the itch by ruminating, fantasizing that you have a different life, predicting the worst outcome, impulsively trying to get rid of the problem, or drowning with alcohol, food, or media.
What is your “itch?” Do you have mechanisms to deal with the itch without making it worse by “scratching?” How might you identify the underlying beliefs and “conversations” you have with the itch that make it much more difficult to deal with?
Soon, my poison ivy will be long gone. But many of our emotional itches never stop. Like Nash in the movie version of “A Beautiful Mind”, the itch did not go away even though he was able to distance himself from it and remind himself that he did not need to respond to it.
This is a part of what it means to “take every thought captive.”
If you ever watch TV after midnight or have cable, you certainly have crossed paths with an infomercial. They seem to pop up in ever greater frequency. I’m wondering if this is so because (a) the costs of running them are less given that it seems that good television is hard to produce, promote, etc., or (b) people are buying more and more after viewing the infomercial.
Over the last week I’ve had a persistent cough so I’ve watched a bit more late night TV. I have to be honest, I watch these infomercials like someone rubbernecking at an accident. I just gotta see how it turns out. I’ve seen the bearded yelling guy promote a product that could cut my car in half (why does he yell?). I’ve seen the product that will give me rock hard abs just by strapping on a belt that will electrically stimulate my muscles (do they think I can’t see how they make the “before” pics look really bad?). I have to do nothing! I’ve seen infomercials for making money (um, the only one making money is the person collecting my four easy payments of $19.95), knives to use to cut cement and tomatoes, for promoting my lasting power in bed (Why is it that these sexually liberated announcers can never say intercourse, erection, penis; Why can they only use euphemisms?), and all sorts of exercise equipment. And of course, who hasn’t seen the sham wow spots?
So, are you ever tempted to purchase any of these items? I confess that the sham wows look like fun. I could cut my post shower drying time in half just like those Olympic divers do. I do own a total gym 1100. But in my defense, it was my wife’s idea. We’ve owned it for many years and I use it 2-3 times a year. It does work when it is used properly.
But really, who buys these things? If they are so great, won’t Target and Walmart sell them soon? Can you explain what it is that makes one want to buy it. Don’t worry, you don’t have to identify yourself. Just say, “A friend of mine bought ___ because…”