We all make ourselves crazy over stupid things. I know I used to do it a lot. I was the queen of making mountains out of mole hills and I would stress out over, well... the dumbest things. A missed appointment, a road closure when I was running late, a flat tire, a miscommunication with a friend over a planned engagement, a rainy day when I had special plans---these types of things had me fretting and fuming and feeling like a failure because I couldn’t micro management my life into a flawless flow of trouble-free days.
Then I learned “the secret” but it came after I’d neatly had a melt down after Don’s stroke. I’d been in the caregiver’s circus less than six months at the time. Don was still going to therapies four days a week, all afternoon, which of course I had to attend. I was also involved in selling off his heavy equipment that was parked all over four counties, and I was worried about the two houses we had sitting void of human inhabitants because we had to move into a wheelchair accessible apartment. Cash flow was a serious issue. Our futures were uncertain.
I don’t know who told me “the secret.” I could have read it in a book, I could have learned it from the Oprah Show---I don’t remember. But I do know it changed my life and I’m going to tell it to you. Free of charge, no strings attached. Drum roll, please. Here it is. Whenever you’re stressed out or mad over something going on in your life, ask yourself this question: is this a disaster or an inconvenience?
With those seven little words I learned to dial down my stress level and I do mean dial it down big time. A flat tire? No, it wasn’t a disaster. No one died, no one lost a limb because of it. A friend who didn’t show up when expected? A miscommunication---a disaster or inconvenience? It certainly doesn’t rate up there with losing your home to a flood or fire. By applying the is-this-a-disaster-or-an-inconvenience question to every situation that had the potential for raising my blood pressure or hurting my feelings, it helped get me through some very tough times. The bottom line is that very few things fall into the category of a disaster and very few inconveniences are worth trading in your live-in-the-moment card for a membership in the Doom and Gloom Club where they sit around for days after every miss-step in life stewing about what went wrong.
Jean Riva ©
P.S. The photo is of me from about the time Don and I met. See the previous blog entry for his circa 1970 photo.