i’ve recently been anxious and stressed out by others acting out in my real virtual world. The situation has left me incredibly tense and feeling less than adequate.
A few years ago, i would have dealt with this using the only tool i had at my disposal: alcohol. Now it’s more daunting because i still feel the same dread but i don’t have the option of drinking over it.
Fortunately, i have more than one tool in my box now, and i’d like to share them with you here in case they might help you, the next time you get a little wound up.
The Serenity Prayer
i stand by this old standby. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things i cannot change (which means other people’s behavior), the courage to change the things i can (myself), and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Where are you now?
i say this to myself when i catch myself falling down the rabbit hole of my thoughts, because eventually i get so far deep that my ideas start chasing their own tails and i lose my sense of the real world. Asking myself “Where are you right now?” forces me to focus on the real world and my physical place in it.
Once one of my biggest defects of character, now i let myself postpone worrying. When i notice the anxiety ramping up, i tell myself to put off thinking about the situation until tomorrow. This is nice because i’ve noticed time and sleep have a great way of diluting pressure.
The Happy Ending
When the problem ends–and it has to end eventually, it’s just a question of time–the ending will be happy because i won’t have drunk over the stress. i’ll have won, and that feels damn good.
Here’s one of the things i hate a lot.
When i was in the States last year for Christmas, i was doing some shopping in a midwest version of Walmart when i came across one of my favorite aisles: Plartitude (platitude + art, or Inspirational Art).
The shelves are lined with photographs of puppies playing with kittens and sunsets breaking through storm clouds and muscled men holding babies in black and white. My favorite part of this section is reading the motivational messages because they are so Pollyanna that they never fail to elicit a derisive laugh from me and i’m all about the laughter.
Imagine my chagrin when, in the midst of my mockery, i read something that resonated with me. It was the opposite of farting during a violin concerto, it was like accidentally tooting Sousa in a farting contest and admiring the tone.
The gist was something along the lines of, “As you’ll never feel you got everything done, enjoy what you’re doing while you’re doing it.”
i tried to laugh that one off at first, like i’d done with the others, but of course i couldn’t because it made so much sense.
Before my recovery, i was very good about writing to-do lists and then beating myself up when i didn’t to-do anything on them. Recently, my sobriety has given me more energy so i’m able to get more done but the problem is now i beat myself up for not doing enough.
That stupid motivational sentence reminded me that the reason i wanted to do those things in the first place was because i enjoy doing them. If i start pressuring myself about having fun then it’s not fun anymore, is it?
i need to accept it’s in my nature to feel I haven’t accomplished enough. i need to concentrate more on the pleasure of doing than the discomfort of not doing.
Be careful of what you mock, it may be your next lesson.