My mom was a worrier. My dad was a worrier. My dad’s mother was a worrier. I came by it honestly. I can’t say I worry in a fretting, anxious way most of the time. Usually, it’s more like I’m overwhelmed by analyzing all of the possibilities.
But what does worrying accomplish? While we have a responsibility to understand the possible consequences of our actions, we also have a responsibility to ourselves to avoid being overwhelmed by things that we have no control over. The news, the economy, politics, climate change, conspiracy theories, and rants on social media can pull us into really dark places if we allow it. It’s really easy for things to get wrapped around the axle.
Worse yet, we can’t take responsibility for those things. Yes, we can affect change, but we Can’t. Change. Everything.
After years of teaching about meditation, stress-reduction, and finding peace in life, I have become a lot better about going down the rabbit hole. But I doubt there is anyone, even a guru who meditates 10 hours a day, who doesn’t encounter “too much” sometimes.
Since retiring and moving to the mountains, life has become a lot more peaceful. I can usually follow one of my friend’s rules of retirement: “One big thing a day.” Sometimes it’s two or three, but it’s nice having the flexibility to set your own schedule and manage things in a calm, methodical way. Especially when you’re like me, and tend to overthink things!
It has also helped a great deal to turn off the news, and disconnect from social media. Yeah, I miss the connections with my friends, but the stress that comes with it is gone. I just work a little harder to connect in other ways. (Hint: Delete your Facebook app, and keep the Messenger app active – you get all of the connection without all of the fluff that goes with it!)
Lately, there have been a number of responsibilities that can’t wait. Earlier this week, my “one thing a day” was more like 20 or 30. The building where we teach has been condemned and we needed to move out quickly. We had to find temporary space to have our classes, and we have to find new permanent space to meet. All along dealing with the bureaucracy of eminent domain, and so many vendors wanting to “help.” It’s a lot to handle on a good day, but the details can be daunting. Cancel this, change that, enroll in something new. Paperwork here, insurance there, appointments, estimates, utilities, taxes, permits, refunds, applications. You get it.
It really wasn’t what I signed up for, but I know it’s necessary in order to achieve the ultimate goal – continuity of my passion. Life works that way sometimes, and we need to be ready for what comes next – whatever that is. Worrying about what might happen doesn’t help us. It just makes the tasks we must face more challenging.
A wise young woman once said, “Worrying is like praying for something you don’t want.” Perfect advice that isn’t always easy to follow. How much of the “don’t want” do I need when I’m trying to finish what I have to do?! But it’s easy to forget.
One way I work toward keeping an even mind is to remind myself that “all is in Divine order, whether I can see it or not.” What is meant to be is what happens, even if it doesn’t align with my expectations. If it wasn’t meant to be, then it wouldn’t have happened, right? Yes, I have a part to play in all of it, and what I say, and do, and think, can change that trajectory, but maybe that’s part of the process. Doing it calmly and logically creates much more palatable results, don’t you think?
Anyway, the lesson is all of this is to keep calm and stay organized. Take life one step at a time. Finish one task before you complete the next, and prioritize them carefully, so you don’t run off the rails. No matter how much you worry, something is going to happen, and it usually isn’t anywhere near as bad as the imagined possibilities you spent so much time worrying about!
I read an article in Time magazine a few years ago that really helped me maintain perspective on this idea. It’s written by a guy who defuses bombs for a living, and how he accomplishes his difficult work without losing his cool. It’s really inspiring, and a perfect lesson in how to get through the most challenging situations without blowing up. Literally.
When you get a chance, read it here (includes links to original source articles).
I remind myself constantly, “There is nothing in this life you haven’t survived.” It’s a powerful realization that can’t be more true. There really is nothing in your life that you haven’t survived. You might not have liked the situation, or the journey it took you through, but you survived it. That is an amazing accomplishment. Wear that badge of honor proudly!
And next time you are swamped with things you need to deal with, pull out that badge and polish it up. You’ve got this!