Phwoar! It’s Getting Hot in Here!!
How many times have you had someone say to you ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff’? And secretly (or perhaps not so secretly!) felt like telling them to jam it? (Yes, I went there!)
How many times have you let life’s little blips get in the way of your happiness because you couldn’t tune out the naysayer voice in your head?
Do you freak out when little things go wrong?
Do you turn yourself inside out with worry, focusing on situations you can’t change or those that haven’t yet occurred?
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above (c’mon, be honest now!) then this post is for you!
What is ‘small stuff’?
Small stuff is all relative to you as the individual. It is highly personalised because we are all different and there is no one-size-fits all definition. What is seemingly inconsequential to you may be a huge deal to me and vice versa.
It may include things like:
- A flat tyre on the way to work.
- Worrying about getting lost when going someplace new.
- The waitress is rude to you in the coffee shop and you wish you had called her out on her behaviour.
- Your spouse/partner didn’t take the rubbish out and the garbage man has already been and gone for the week (hubby I am talking to you!!).
- The dog chewed your favourite pair of shoes (oh wait, that is bad!).
- Someone is talking loudly in the movies and they are sitting right behind you.
- Your favourite cereal is out of stock. Indefinitely. So you have to hope your daughter will take pity and ship you some from the other side of the country (Dad, sound familiar?!).
You get the picture. The list is endless.
How the ‘small stuff’ can get the better of us
Does it ever seem like the more you try and NOT think about something that the more attention you actually give it? Reverse psychology is well and truly at play here; I think we are naturally wired to do the opposite of what we are told, even by our own self!
I liken it to the example of telling a child that they can’t step in the puddles. Suddenly it is all the child can think about and surprise, surprise, they step in the puddles!
When someone tells you to Stop. Sweating. The. Small. Stuff.
It can be maddening to hear. And I recognise that statement in itself could be classified as ‘small stuff!’
Sometimes you need to hear it. Call it a wake up call. But other times…..it’s just annoying. You know that you are doing it. You are trying to stop it. And then someone comes along and states the obvious.
Having gone through a critical illness, something I hear a LOT of is ‘but you should know better than anyone to stop sweating the small stuff!’
Yes, I probably should. But there are times when it doesn’t work for me. My brain didn’t suddenly re-wire itself overnight because I got sick. I have to work at it. Yes, I have a greater appreciation for living in the present. And yes, many of the things that used to drive me crazy and send me into a tizz don’t anymore, because I know that in the grand scheme of life they are but little blips on the radar.
BUT, I am just as capable as the next person of getting caught up in the minor crap. I don’t believe anyone is immune. Worries, no matter how small, can be hard to completely ignore, even though our rationale self knows that fretting won’t change the outcome.
Like last night, when unable to sleep, my mind seemed hell-bent on worrying if the plastic dehydrator sheets were going to blow off the line (big storms) and land in the neighbour’s yard, and if that happened, then I would have to go to the effort of retrieving them in the morning. Pretty mundane right?! I cringe just writing it!
So how do we keep calm and take life’s small slights and setbacks with a smile and shoulder shrug?
I have found the following works quite well for me most of the time (ignoring last night and the dehydrator sheets!).
Let’s get down with the acronym lingo and call it BAAAA by Starbrite:
Take a deep breathe. Inhale, count to ten; then exhale as you count to ten again. And repeat. Feel any better?
I find that when my little grey cells get that much needed hit of oxygen it sends a timely message to my brain to stress less.
Acknowledge your thoughts and concerns. ‘Small’ things can feel big when they all start to add up. Try not to punish yourself for allowing your fears and thoughts to overwhelm and take over at times. It happens. The more you beat yourself up the worse you will feel.
Pause and assess the situation. Decide if the source of your upset really matters in the long run.
Are you worked up about something that on closer examination isn’t really that big a deal and is being blown out of proportion? Or is there truly something bigger at play that warrants further attention?
Do you want to cultivate your inner zen or continue to drive yourself batty with the coulda, shoulda, woulda’s of life?
Put your problem-solving game face on and ask yourself: How am I going to solve this?
Try making a list of the things for which you are grateful or thankful. This type of exercise can help shift your perspective and dampen the little naysayer in your head.
Can you change your thought process to see that every decision you make is the ‘right’ decision at the time, based on the information you have AT THAT MOMENT? You cannot know what the future holds and the past is the past (so learn from it but leave it there).
Accept your decision and move forward. Live and enjoy your life.
And if all else fails?
Then I’m afraid you will need to dance around the house with your fingers in your ears chanting ‘la la la la I can’t hear you!’ That oughta put a smile on your dial.
Want to know more?
Richard Carlson (Ph.D), one of the foremost experts on stress reduction and happiness, showed millions of people how not to let the small things in life get the better of them through his famed book series ‘Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.’
We may get pulled down by the small stuff at times but remember that life is full of frustrations and curiosities that connect us all. It gives us something to laugh, cry and talk about. Embrace it. Rejoice in it.
And remember to BAAAA!
I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject; please feel free to share this post or leave comments below.
Let your star shine brite my fellow Warriors
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