help me sit and take it!
January 21, 2009 12:20 PM   Subscribe

When I try to take in a very important source of information, I get jittery and too excited to sit and take it in one sitting. How can I get over this?

When I first receive something that should be overall an enjoyable experience, but which may have some unpleasant pitfalls or bad news (let's say, a letter from a long-lost friend, a work performance review, a news article about something I'm very interested in, something like that); I find I cannot simply sit down and read it straight through. I get so nervous I open and close the message tentatively, sit and read a few lines and then get up and walk around and do something else, come back, read some more, go away, try to put it off, and so forth. I also do this with news I know is going to be bad, but it seems particularly silly to do it with neutral or pleasant things.

Some of the problem seems to be that I'm afraid of hearing bad news, but even when it's pretty sure to be all good news, I do this, as though the excitement is too much for me to bear all at one sitting. I've also noticed it sometimes when I'm reading a book I know (hope) I'm really going to enjoy, or watching a movie I've been looking forward to but am afraid will be ruined.

I did this as a child, but it's getting old now! It wastes time and makes me feel stupid. Does anyone else do this? Why do I do this? How can I get over this?
posted by The otter lady to Human Relations (9 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I do it too, especially with a fun letter or good news. I never thought it was a bad thing or something I had to get over-- I consider it savoring the experience. It does take me a little longer to read books I'm genuinely enjoying, but I don't think that's bad, either. I get overloaded easily so this saves me some stress in the long run. There's nothing wrong with slowing down!
posted by Maisie Jay at 12:33 PM on January 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

Congratulations! You're experiencing life! Embrace it and all the pesky emotions it has to offer you.
posted by iamkimiam at 12:41 PM on January 21, 2009

As long as you handle it better than this don't worry. Just enjoy the party.
posted by Zendogg at 12:58 PM on January 21, 2009

Best answer: That's seriously cute. Let's meet someday. I'm a very important source of lots of information.
posted by the_ancient_mariner at 12:59 PM on January 21, 2009 [5 favorites]

Best answer: You might try taking a few minutes beforehand to sit down and think through what your expectations of the book/movie/letter are going to be. Since you're often irrationally worried about bad news, try to imagine the worst that could happen and visualize how you will respond. Realize that whatever happens, you'll find a way to deal; you've done so before, and you will again.

Once you've thought through your expectations, don't let much more time go by before you engage in the activity. Resolve to stick with it for a set period of time (say, sit with the book/letter in front of you for 15 minutes -- and then give yourself a break if you still need it).
posted by cymru_j at 1:27 PM on January 21, 2009

Best answer: Me too! I get this all the time - and I still struggle with keeping a lid on it, especially at work. I'm also studying a subject I'm really passionate about and sometimes I'll fret so much over opening the text book - because I know I'll get over-excited - that I prevaricate for a long time, very frustrating!

Sometimes at work, I'll just excuse myself to the bathroom and jump up and down for a few seconds to dissipate the energy. What really works for me is pretty much what cymru_j's said. I set my phone alarm for 15 minutes time and push myself to engage with the thing for that set amount of time. Once I'm in it's usually fine, I'm quickly completely absorbed, or the emotional content of thing has become diffused. I have to say though, I rarely answer the phone for the same reason (yay text!) and haven't quite sorted that out.

I think it stems from being very 'feely' (I'm INFP on the Myer-briggs scale) and despite having no form of social anxiety I can very quickly be internally overwhelmed by even a mild reaction to something external. The jittering is an avoidance habit - piecemeal exposure is a good way of not being side-swiped by the mood change.

You're fine though! I know it can be a pain but it is also a joy to experience life so vividly.
posted by freya_lamb at 3:23 PM on January 21, 2009

I totally do this too. Like freya_lamb, I especially get this way at work. I find a book or an article that is just spot-on what I'm interested in, and I suddenly can't get past the first page without feeling too excited to continue. The energy that comes from the pleasure of the experience seems to activate some kind of latent ADD. It's kinda frustrating.

I'll be watching this thread to see if people have good advice - I'd love to hear it too.
posted by shaun uh at 4:30 PM on January 21, 2009

Best answer: I was just thinking about this today. I do this all the time. When I borrow or buy a new book, I get excited and put off reading it for days, sometimes weeks! I guess part of the thrill of learning or embarking on anything new is the initial excitement. I think the main reason we stall and put off diving in is because we don't want the excitement to end just yet. If we dive in and find, like you said, pitfalls or bad news, we will have to come down from our cloud and deal with the reality of what we're getting into. This means our expectations might not get met.

If this is something you really want to stop doing, I suggest next time you have something new in front of you, try diving in right away and fully. You'll probably realize the excited feeling you usually get is not so bad at all!
posted by DoNotRefill at 6:39 PM on January 21, 2009

Response by poster: Thank you all so much! Not only for the helpful advice but also just for the reassurance. I am glad I'm not the only one and that it's not such a bad thing after all! I admit I had to do the 'hide/peek/hide' thing even with this thread, a bit. Thank you! :)
posted by The otter lady at 10:12 AM on January 22, 2009

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