When you feel out of control, control what you can and let go of the rest
It’s a dizzying time in the world right now.
Sometimes, I feel like I’m on a roller coaster and getting off isn’t really an easy option. It seems we all have an E-ticket to the ride and it goes on and on every single day.
But we don’t have to stay on it. It’s a conscious decision to create some distance from the craziness. It is possible and healthy.
If you keep up with the news it’s enough to send even the most stoic among us into hiding. How do you keep a positive outlook when you are buried in the news cycle of terrible events?
Let’s face it, most of the news we are bombarded with is horrific and huge and too big for us to do anything about, except worry.
But you worry enough. If you want to help, donate to a charity on the ground making a difference. If you don’t agree with a government’s policy or response, vote! You have a voice, let it be heard. Support a candidate you believe in. Changes happen and more than 100 women in Congress is a good start.
Wringing your hands will just create a cycle of helplessness that won’t help anyone. Especially you.
I remember reading a story once
It was about a British diplomat posted in some faraway place where the newspapers took months to get to him. When someone asked if that fact frustrated him, he replied something like I still know what’s happening just at a little slower pace.
What a remarkable idea? A slower pace. I am not suggesting not keeping up with what’s going on in your part of the world. Just slowing down the pace. How many times do you check your phone for messages, or texts in a day? An hour? If you turned off some of those notifications think how much more time, energy and focus you could devote to what was going on in your immediate surroundings.
With many of us celebrating holidays, how about celebrating by putting away your phone when you are in a group of people and talk face to face. Don’t start the day checking your email, unless you are working. I don’t want to get anyone in trouble here. Stay off Facebook and Twitter for a few days.
Why would I suggest going low tech? It’s blasphemy! It’s to get back control over your time. We are all like Pavlov’s dog and the bell. Our brains are programmed to answer those notifications.
So what do we do? We get a little control over the flow of information overload and bad news.
One of the things I insist my clients do when they are going through a breakup or divorce is to stay off their former partners Facebook page. What we put there is only the good stuff. There is no filter and why would you cause yourself pain if you didn’t have to?
Be grateful and thankful
Be grateful, thankful, and careful this season with your feelings. We can only control how we react to things. If your first reaction is pain, stop doing that. Remember the old joke about the guy going to the doctor and the doctor asks:
“It hurts when I do this” the guy says shaking his arm.
The doctor responds matter of factly “stop doing that then.”
Okay so maybe it isn’t that funny but you get the idea, right?
Why put yourself into situations that cause you pain? If it’s your family, do something different this year. Just because you are related to someone by blood or marriage doesn’t mean they get to inflict a lifetime of suffering on you. You do have control. Give yourself the gift of doing what you want this year. Of surrounding yourself with people who don’t tease you about something you did 20 years ago. Mean isn’t the atmosphere you want to cultivate in your life.
And I am not suggesting not to be loving and giving, but not if it costs you your well-being and self-esteem. Traditions can be so overrated. And in some cases, it’s how people keep control over other people in the name of a tradition that is neither pleasant or healthy.
It’s worth a shot trying to have a conversation before the event with the adult or adults that do and have behaved badly. If you are clear about your intentions and how you want to be treated, some progress can be made. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to be honest about what works and doesn’t work for you. People can change but if you don’t ask to be treated differently you won’t be. (Tweet it!)
If after you have had these conversations nothing changes, it has changed for you. If you ask for what you want and don’t get it, then you get to decide how you want to proceed. How you respond is what is in your control.
And if you need a little help, let me know.
Be kind to yourself.
Now over to you: Is there something you would like to get more control over? How will you do it?
Originally published at www.tamaramendelson.com on November 26, 2018.