I woke up in pain. My right hand felt like a water balloon that was about to burst. “Must be a new iteration of carpal tunnel syndrome,” I thought as I tried every possible position to get the throbbing to stop. Finally, I lifted my hand in the semi-darkness to look at it and instantly saw the problem.
I had one of those coated ponytail elastics on my wrist where I had placed it the night before after picking it up off the kitchen floor. I meant to put it away, but forgot and slept with what turned out to be an actual tourniquet on my wrist. I yanked it off and immediately began to feel relief. Then I wondered how much permanent damage I might have done to my hand (because if you know me, you know I tend to go to the worst case scenario in my mind.)
Obviously, I didn’t intend to put a darn tourniquet on my wrist and then leave it on while I slept. But who thinks of those little ponytail thingies as potentially dangerous? They seem so harmless . . .
I think I sometimes do that with my thinking.
What starts out as a practical framework for my ideas turns into a flawed and possibly dangerous assumption. Instead of wisdom or insight, I default to an interpretation that constricts and risks damage to my relationships, to my attitude, even to my own personal peace.
Here’s an example: A couple of weeks ago, I was walking in my neighborhood at dusk and three people rode by on bicycles — a 50-ish man in the lead followed by a woman around his age and then a younger woman. Probably a family, I thought. As they rode by, the man was holding forth on how much to inflate their tires for maximum comfort and how to regulate their speed to conserve energy. The two women looked miserable.
My first thought was, “What a know-it-all gas bag. Why can’t they just go for a leisurely ride? Why does he have to preach them a sermon on how it’s done?” I felt myself getting ramped up.