My mother used to tell me “Everything in life has advantages and disadvantages. You have to decide the advantages you have to have and the disadvantages you can put up with”. When I told her sometime in my very early adult life what good advice that was, she confessed the concept came from her grandmother. As I gain life experience, those words ring more and more true for me.
I have been paralyzed trying to identify the right answer when there wasn’t one. There are correct answers on multiple choice questions in school. When asked a question about history, research or written guidelines, there are correct answers based on documentation. In life, there are choices. Just choices. Choices have consequences and some consequences are more desirable than others but I have not found “right answers”. I’ve just found choices.
It is not possible to know what the future will bring exactly. The future is the sum of many little moments and decisions made now. At any given moment, I can make a new decision if the one I made before isn’t working out. There is SO MUCH freedom in that!
If you would have described my life now to me 10 years ago, I would have thought you were talking about someone else! I have learned that much of what causes me anxiety is deciding the future will not work out to my liking before the future is even here. When I feel anxious, I take an inventory of what is going on in my life right now. I’m usually breathing, with ample food and hydration for my body. I have not been in physical danger or under emotional attack in those moments. The anxiety was caused by my agreeing with emotional poison others have flung in my direction and/or worrying about things outside of my control. The anxiety lessened when I switched my energy to gratitude for being safe now and believing the answers I need will appear when I need them.
It has never helped me to tell myself to stop worrying. In fact, it’s never helped me to tell myself to stop feeling any emotion. It does help me to recognize what I’m feeling, feel it, and then decide if I want to keep feeling that way or if I want to make different decisions.
When making decisions, I start with what I want if I could have anything in the world. From there, I add in the circumstances of reality and see how close I can get to what I truly want with what I have now. It helps me clear the fog created by other people’s expectations and fear. I make it okay for me to feel anything, think anything and be anything because I love me and I’m alright.
I decide whether what other people think about me is true. Most of the time, what they think of me is none of my business. Sometimes, I need to correct my course because I don’t like the consequences of my choices. The rest of the time, what other people think of me just doesn’t matter one bit. I know these things when I’m feeling confident but forget when I’m feeling insecure. However, I’m getting better about recognizing my insecurity, observing it, and changing my thoughts. I can do that any time I want!
My son taught me to be this way. The struggles we’ve experienced together blew up the box I grew up in and opened us up to an entirely new world. When he tries to make sense of the world in black and white, I see very clearly why that doesn’t work at all for me.
At this exact moment, I’m blogging while my son is on a high school band trip in Florida. When I sent him a text asking who he was spending the most time with he responded, “many people that I like” and provided a list of names. My teenage son who I worried so much about and felt inadequate raising, is finding his way in the world! He’s building relationships and improving himself in accordance with his goals. My heart is bursting with pride and joy!
Instead of controlling his life, I’m intending to be present in it. He’s going to be better than okay. He’s on his way to having a great life of his creation! For that, I am eternally grateful and am looking forward to being available to him for as long as I live.
From my heart to yours
Thanks for reading