Thursday, March 14, 2013

Wasted Energy

Have you ever thought back on a time in your life and thought 'wow, I wasted a lot of energy {insert negative emotion (worrying, stressing out, being angry) here} on that'? My life has been a mix of wonderful and tragic things, and loads of things in the middle.

Way back, when I very first graduated college, I attended a seminar about time management and how to move through your day in the most productive way. They gave all the common advice, showed you their idea of the best 'planners' to use, and all that jazz. But the one thing I pulled from that class was this statement - Don't waste energy worrying about things you can't change. I don't even remember the context of the statement - it was probably just one of the ways that you organized your to-do list (when you can't check off something because you are waiting for input from someone else), but it really struck me.

Don't worry about things you can't change.

This is not to say I'm totally Zen all the time. I still get very fired up about some things - like Mel has written about many times, we have a range of emotions for a reason. We can't/shouldn't always be happy - it doesn't make sense! But. After the initial wave of emotion hits, I think - what can I do about this? Is it something I can change? Can I impact the outcome? Or maybe it's someones perception of something, and as perception is reality.... do I want to fight to change that? Would it even work? And if it's something that is out of my hands, I try to let it go.

I think it's a mix of time and life experience, but the most clear example I have of this is from when I traveled to the West coast with Maggie when she was about 4 months old. The woman giving me a ride took a wrong turn on the way to the airport. In my early twenties? I would have freaked out and panicked about missing my plane. But when my friend realized what she did, she started apologizing and freaking out - I said - can you do anything to fix it? And she said, no (her wrong turn made us miss a ferry). I told her not to worry about it and just get me there when she could. If I make my plane, I make it. If I don't? There will be other planes.

This was after years of worrying about getting pregnant, miscarriages (that I couldn't prevent), and wanting a natural childbirth (that didn't happen), breastfeeding (when my milk never came in), the right time to change from a bottle to sippy cup, how I was going to deal with twins and a one year old, the right time to change from a crib to a big boy bed, researching the right sunscreen and the right daycare and the right car seat and..... you get the idea. Some of these things? Totally worth the effort. Others? I have absolutely ZERO control over. And now that I'm removed from the stress of the time - I wish I hadn't put so much energy into it.

I wish I could figure out a way to tell that to my teenage nieces or friends with tiny babies. Don't sweat it. Worry about what MATTERS. But, in the moment, it's so hard to get that perspective.


Serenity said...

I think that kind of mindset is something you need to discover for yourself.

Like you, I don't know if it's age, or experience, or whatever, but at least for me I've known, intellectually, that I can't change certain things. But I've spent WAY too much emotional energy on resisting it. That somehow, by accepting and not FIGHTING it, I'll somehow be lesser of a person.

And it has only been recently that I've realized I don't have the energy to deal with the drama of resisting something I can't change. I'm too busy and there's too much I want to DO.

And I can see resistance = suffering, and it's keeping me from being happy.

Love this post. Don't worry about things you can't change.


HereWeGoAJen said...

I started working on this in high school and I am actually pretty good at it now. It took me a while though. My mom and my sister are big worriers and I didn't get really good at it until I moved away from them.

MamaB (BrandiH) said...

Great post! I try to live by that same rule!

Catwoman73 said...

This is something I think I've gotten better at with age, though I have to admit, it doesn't come naturally to me, and I have to fight with my worrying nature every step of the way. Great post- I'll come back and read every time I start freaking out about something! :)