"Jouska - a hypothetical conversation that you play out over and over in your head. For example, replaying an argument in your head where you say all the right things and 'win' the argument, or practising asking your boss for a raise and playing out his or her responses and your comebacks."
My other half suffers from this constantly, to the point where it's almost a debilitating mental tic often leading to insomnia, especially if the imagined argument is with a workplace superior with whom he disagrees.
After seeing him not sleep again for what must be the millionth time (and getting tired of all the tossing and turning), I finally decided to have a talk with him about why this happens, and what the root causes of the problem might be.
I recount this here (with permission) because I find the results enlightening and they may help someone else who might be similarly afflicted. (And also I may need to have this conversation with him again, in which case I want a cheat sheet <_<)
Mind you, this discussion is rooted in his particular psychology and probably isn't applicable to everyone.
(I rewrote this from memory as best I could and left some things out that he'd rather not share so be kind, I hope it gets the point across.)
Me> So why are you having this argument [in your head]?
Him> Because I want to correct [the boss].
Me> As in, you feel he's doing the wrong thing and you want to set him straight?
Me> So let's dig into that a bit. You want to help him, yeah? Or are you trying to win?
Him> I want to help him out. I guess maybe win? But not because I want to beat him, I just want to--
Me> --You just want him to admit you're right and he's wrong :P
Him> Well if you're gonna put it that way :/ But that's oversimplifying.
Me> The point I'm trying to make is that before you can stop having these conflicts in your head you need to truly, properly understand your motivation for having them. And, to be blunt, helpful helpfulness is not a motivation that usually keeps people up at night. A burning desire to crush one's opponent though...
Him> You're projecting? :P
Me> Quiet. Am I wrong? Are you really not trying to score mental points?
Him> I just want to get him to do the right thing.
Me> Okay. So what if he's right and you're not?
Him> But he's not right, that's the point.
Me> Says you.
Him> Well if I thought he was right I wouldn't be arguing about it, would I?
Me> All right, look. Is this conversation in your head one you're ever likely to have with him in real life?
Me> Right. So why bother having it at all?
Him> I just do. It's not something I want to do. But I used to debate a lot, and I guess I'm stuck in that pattern.
Me> So it's about winning, as I said.
Him> No! ...Yes? I don't know. I don't think so.
Me> Well I mean no one goes into an argument wanting to lose :P
Him> Fine, let's say you're right. I want to be a winner, so what. How do I stop that?
Me> Well, are motives important to you?
Him> I don't get it?
Me> Is why you're arguing important. I mean, if, as you say, you're not just arguing to win, your argument comes from a place of... what?
Him> Wanting to set him straight. Wanting to help him do the correct thing. But wanting to win, too I guess. Because unless I win, how will I help? He needs to be convinced.
Me> But real life isn't a debating society, is it? You're not going to win points, and the real conversation will most likely not go the way it does in your head. And if your true motive is to help, but you keep getting into these arguments (let's call them fights, for a moment), can you see how getting into fights is unhelpful? Both for you and him?
Him> I guess.
Me> From my perspective it's rather like "nice guy" syndrome.
Me> Someone thinks that by acting like a "nice guy" if they say and do the right things, they are automatically entitled to a sexy time in return.
Him> I don't get the analogy?
Me> Well in this case, if you say the right magic words to the person you're arguing with, you assume they'll magically fall into compliance, no?
Me> Isn't that the end goal of the argument? To say the "right" thing, so that your opponent suddenly has a "come to Jesus" moment and becomes enlightened and all on board the [Mr. Peinforte] train?
Him> I just want to convince him. I think you're overstating things :P
Me> I think I've got it just right :P You want to pin him down with the argument and make him submit to your superior logic.
Him> You mean like you're trying to right now? :P You're just making it sound worse than it is!
Me> Well how is it any better? Are you not spending all night locked in hypothetical word combat? Because, you know, in real life, you'd a) never say those things or b) even if you did, they probably wouldn't work. If they would work I don't think you'd need to be having mental fights, you'd just have said these things to his face.
Him> So what's your point, Paise.
Me> Stop trying to be a winner.
Stop trying to "win" the mental fight. Try to accept that there is no battle, no confrontational aspect, no magic word soup to resolve the problem.
If your true goal is to be helpful, it's incumbent upon you to find a different, constructive way of getting your message across.
Find a better way to communicate. Maybe others can help you. But stewing in your own mind having imaginary knife-fights isn't going to help a bloody thing.
He seemed to be receptive to the suggestion. Maybe I was overstating things, but I don't believe so.
Whether my advice will work, it remains to be seen. But he did seem to reconsider some things and I suppose the important point of this is to say that sometimes you have to pick apart the motives of why you're having the mental argument to come to any kind of proper conclusion that might help you not have them again in future.
Having successfully invaded both America and Canada from her home base in Windsor, Paisley has become horribly corrupted by the world. She hates active voice and wished to god Twitter had an edit button but is now glad to be rid of that place. Dedicated to "creating the greatest 'Ship of them all", she ponders horribly terrible, idiotic things for your amusement.