Quit thinking that people are trying to vote you off the island.
This is a sentence I used with students when they said that teachers had it in for them or they were never going to college or that their parents hated them. The level of stress that I see in working adults, high schoolers, and even middle schoolers is insane. People seem to have embraced the concept that everything is an extreme happening. Storms are apocalyptic; meetings are perilous; dates are last chances; a phone call is dire. Really, folks? Settle down.
Storms are weather. Meetings are part of working life. Dates can be fun (even bad ones!). Phone calls are communication. There are few weekly or daily decisions that the average person faces that are life and death. Life is life. All kinds of events populate our calendars, and we seem to have really lost the art of rolling with the punches.
The political climate has served to set our collective teeth on edge. Candidates are screaming that America is failing – that Wall Street houses Satan’s personal minions – that terrorists lurk on every corner – that their opponents are idiots. Whew. Is it any wonder that we feel like everything is out to get us?
We also are out to get ourselves. We self-sabotage. It’s like we are afraid to made a decision, take a stand, and move forward. New job? Go for it. Same old job? Lean in. New lover? Live it up! Move? Commit and embrace your new community. Empty nest? Reinvent habits and routines to live for yourself. New hobby? Dive in! Had a baby? Love and hold her! No need for histrionics.
Don’t be afraid to commit to living life. While we are the superstars of our own movies, the fact is the theater is pretty empty. Realizing that no one thinks about you as much as you think about yourself is not depressing – it’s freeing. It frees you from performing roles that are inauthentic to where you are in life. This allows you to grow and change and form new alliances without fear of being voted off the island.
Don Jose Ruiz writes, “Humans are the only animals on earth who punish themselves a thousand times or more for the same mistake, and who punish everybody else a thousand times or more for the same mistake.” Not only do we punish ourselves for mistakes, we also punish ourselves for successes and even daily living. Furthermore, we anticipate that others will punish us, as well. So, we carry stress and fear into every situation.
I remember when my boys were young, I would second guess what I made them for supper. I would castigate myself for waking up late. I would spend energy wondering if they were involved in too many/not enough activities and the right kind of activities. I hung out with people (mainly now ex-husbands) who were more than happy to engage in the Laura-flagellation that I invited them to. It was all so unnecessary.
We are on the island for a short time – let’s enjoy it.