What if there’s not actually a problem?
First, let me say… THERE ARE PROBLEMS IN THE WORLD.
We ALL have problems.
I was walking the other day - fretting about my life. My significance. I was frustrated because I’m not making very much money. I teach on call usually one or 2 times each week, (but sometimes not at all), I fill in for my husband’s junk removal business when it works for both of us, and occasionally I do songs and stories in a school or sell a book or two.
So my mind gets to work. I should get a job. I should work harder on my Youtube channel. I should get my Master’s degree. I need to make more calls. Maybe I should get an agent. My new book. I need to send it into traditional publishing houses. Try to get published and let them promote me. I know a lady who did that. There’s this podcast I like. I think the host would like me too if I could just get her attention. I start to write a letter in my head. Scheming. Formulating a plan.
And I’m feverish. I’m sweating. Anxious. Frustrated. Feeling very stuck.
But I’m walking so I do what I do when my head gets full while I’m walking and I let all the dogs out:) I let the thoughts and feelings all come up.
And this time I actually said a prayer. I said, “God, what should I do?”
You know, maybe God would part the heavens and tell me how I could become a quick millionaire. Maybe God will give me an idea that will shock the world and help me to “make it.” Maybe there’s something I’m just not seeing, something that will turn this all around.
Deep in my heart I hear, “What if there’s not a problem?”
Get out of town. Not a problem?
Still worth considering - so I think about it: we have enough money to live. My husband works hard and brings in enough. My focus right now is my family and Teaching on Call leaves me with money, connection with kids, and zero outside of school responsibility. I have time to work on my songs or stories, even my youtube channel - IF I use my time wisely. I have time to walk every day. I’m not stressed out. My family gets the best of my energy. I couldn’t actually handle more responsibility, more work, more school. I don’t want to be famous or well known. Rich… ok you got me there. To never care about money would be nice, but I can still choose not to worry. That's my choice.
So what if there’s not a problem?
I have to tell you - the thing that I spend the most time stewing about - it’s not actually a real problem. This whole life and significance problem is an idea that I have about myself and it can really trip me up from time to time. I think it’s tied to pride and wanting to look good. It comes from being competitive. I want to be better than whoever I’m standing next to, dang it.
There are things that all of us are upset about - but worse - we’re spending our precious lives worrying and scheming and stewing over them! There are things that all of us spend time, energy and worry on - and it’s actually never going to “give back.” It will always just take from us.
What is it for you?
It takes real intentionality for me to let those dogs run free. But those busymakers just keep me distracted from what I really love, what I really care about, what REALLY matters to me!
Have you ever heard of affirmations? They are statements we would make when we are in the center of our heart, fully in touch with who we are and what we believe.
People write them down and repeat them daily (because crazy enough, they are so easy to forget!) Sometimes they are general things like: I am loved. I am safe. I am enough. I’m exactly where I need to be.
Or they could be specific: Teaching on call helps me to make money and allows me to do what matters most to me: be available to my family. I am creative and calm when my kids fight. And so on it could go.
It’s sort of like your bottom line. Reminders to pull you back in when stress starts to steal your memory, your identity and you begin to morph into someone you don’t believe in, someone you wouldn’t want to even be friends with.
I’ve spent years going back and forth - sometimes writing affirmations and reviewing them carefully, and other times letting them go. There’s no magic in writing them down - but the process of considering what truths you live by can sure spare you a few trips down the emotional spiraling staircase (the one where you crash at the bottom).
Those dogs are worth letting out. That’s weight you don’t need to carry any more.
It takes some time and honesty but it’s totally worth it.