Along the journey, of life, we all find ourselves having to deal with tough situations, be it in our personal or professional lives. After reading a very ‘small book’, titled “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” by Richard Carlson, I have started to question the issues I face in my life.
I guess the most difficult thing to decide is exactly what the ‘small stuff’ is and what is deserving of our time and energy. My biggest nemesis is worry and not to forget self-doubt. I find myself spending worthless energy worrying about what people think and if I actually am good enough.
These feelings were very much brought to light when I had my first child. My perfectionist, A-Type, personality kicked into over drive. I questioned not only my ability to parent but my self- worth as a mother.
After 10 rather maturing years I am learning to discern what the important issues are. No I do not get it right every time but my success rate is definitely improving! I have had to stop myself trying to fix everything and everyone. The prayer of serenity comes to mind: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”
So we find ourselves with all these conflicting messages. Society is dictating ‘the faster the better’ but deep down we know this is not the right answer, that everything does not have to be perfect all the time and we do not have to achieve status and success at all costs. If we could just get off the roller coaster of life long enough to appreciate what is right in front of us and not look at what we don’t have, then life would be so much for fulfilling.
This is a very prominent issue in our household at the moment. Having two girls who are rather competitive, I find myself constantly having to be the mediator. They are fairly close in age and compare everything they have or get. My first instinct was to buy them all the same things but as you know this is neither practical nor easy to do. So what do we do? Constantly put out fires or rather try and teach them to appreciate what they have and not dwell on what they don’t have. This is indisputably the hardest issue to deal with, but in my opinion, one of high importance. I believe that if we get the message across now when they are young, it will make the transition into adulthood that much smoother.
One of the main areas that I am finding this practice useful is during conflict. I have needed to learn when to fight and when to walk away, especially in these pubescent pre-teen years. The most interesting thing is that it is often more difficult to walk away from the dispute than to engage in it. Once engaged however, I have found that in the conflict one inflicts too much hurt and the consequences outweigh the outcome. So yes, just walk away, and it is amazing after the dust has settled, how it all just seems so insignificant.
In the process we may find that our feathers are ruffled and we are forced out of our comfort zone, which is usually a place of control. In this struggle for control we need to accept that children are often just trying to assert themselves – a skill which they will need later on in life.
Please do not misunderstand what I am saying. I am not condoning disrespect, but it is often in our reactions to situations, that our children learn how to deal with issues. So pick your fight wisely. We may all come out the other end with a few battle scars but is it not more important to at least enjoy the journey and not spend it fighting or “Sweating the Small Stuff”.