Are you like me and constantly feel like there is something you have to do? It is a bit hard to relax when you feel like you should be doing something else. For me, a bit of this comes from the way I was raised, but a good portion comes from the genetics I inherited at birth.
One day, I realized that everything was OK, there was nothing I had to do. Of course, there were things like brushing my teeth and eating and my to do list, but I kept worrying there was something else to do. Something that must get done that I could not quite put my finger on. This feeling switched on my survival instincts and kept me from feeling safe and would not allow my nervous system to rest.
Some of you may not relate because you do not have the mental habit of constant worry like I do, but if you are like me, then you get it. Even if you are not like me you may have some other form of mental or emotional challenge. I wish I did not have this challenge and have addressed it in many ways, including reading books (one favorite is the classic Dale Carnegie book ‘How to Stop Worrying and Start Living’). But this is part of who I am and I still have to deal with it.
On this particular day I was staying on the beach in Florida where I had come to relax and do some writing. While thinking through the things I wanted to do that day, I realized only a few items on my list truly needed doing and otherwise there was nothing that needed to be done. Because it was a revelation, it came with enough force to get believed within my mind and included the awareness that the “feeling” of having something else to do is false. In that moment, I truly knew that everything was ok, and there was nothing I needed to do. This brought me great peace and allowed me to enjoy the beach and stop worrying.
As I continued to reflect on this revelation throughout the day I could see how doing nothing, or at least much less than I thought I had to do, had proved true in my past. Other people had done things I thought I needed to do and had done a better job, or by not doing something I had more time for new information to come to light and allow me to make better decisions. These better outcomes happened because I acted with the flow of things and did not overthink or overwork what needed to get done. I trusted myself, others, and the world at large. When I trust that everything is OK instead of feeling tense, I relax and become happier and more creative. This causes better outcomes and a better quality of life.
To accept our shortcomings and be ok that they may last throughout our lifetime is much healthier than getting discouraged or feeling bad about ourselves. Remember, if you or I had a physical limitation like being born with one leg we would be compensating for that the rest of our lives. I hope you do not feel bad about your challenges and accept that they may take a lifetime of effort, and that we may have to learn (do) the same things over and over again. It is alright. The point I am making is to think of our challenges as just that, and to accept them even if they continue throughout our life. The analogy of being born without a leg helps to see that we may have a challenge that does not change or go away, but we can manage our challenges effectively. It is all about our attitude.
As I wrote this post my wife and daughter were leaving Florida to go back to Colorado. I get separation anxiety and start to worry whenever I separate from members of my family. And I get way too emotional, I actually felt like I needed to cry. I worried that if I had been more disciplined, or somehow ‘better’ during my life, might I have dealt more effectively with my challenges?
Then I thought about how much I love my wife and family, how lucky and grateful I am for my life and how it has turned out. Attitude, check.
Then I realized the most important thing for me during my life, other than my family, was to discover more about being human. That requires a lot of reflection and acceptance. I managed my challenge, and I stopped worrying.