How much of our frustration in life is caused by wondering and worrying about others? I would venture to guess that it’s A LOT! If you’re a parent, it’s in your job description to worry about the health, safety, and general wellbeing of your children. Other than that, how many years have been subtracted from your life and nights of good sleep lost to stressing about what others think, why someone does what they do, and so on?
It’s time to stop piling on the pressure and giving yourself a breakdown about what exes, in-laws, nosey know-it-alls, and other inconsequential people (that’s right, I called your ex, your rude mother-in-law, your significant other’s ex, and everyone else who drives you insane INCONSEQUENTIAL!) think!
I’m not saying that it’s time to stop playing nice with others. As I always say “if someone’s going to be a jerk, let it be them” …What I am saying, is stay in your lane, tend your own garden, manage your own monkeys. You have no control over their nonsense! So, either drive yourself right into a ditch of frustration, anger, and guilt, or turn up some favorite tunes, set the cruise control, and coast along minding your own business!
Really visualize yourself driving this comfortable (yet incredibly stylish car that’s so you!) car that symbolizes your life and the things you need to worry about. Turn on the ignition and make a short mental list of the things within your control and within your scope of responsibilities:
Getting up on time. Check.
Food shopped for and in the cupboards. Check.
Chores done around the house. Check.
Went to work, put in 40 hours, made an income. Check.
Paid the bills. Check.
Took care of my body to keep it healthy and made sure my kid’s needs were met. Check.
Told the people I care about that they are loved. Check.
Apologized and asked forgiveness when I had done wrong. Check.
Your list will have some different things on it than mine because our lives aren’t exactly the same. The point is that we all have responsibilities to ourselves, our homes, and the people who share their lives. Beyond that, not only do I have no control (or responsibility) for what goes on in someone else’s day, but I don’t really care!
I may not like the choices other people make in their lives, especially if those decisions trickle down to my children or me in some personal way, but what good is bitching about it and lying awake for two hours tonight brooding about it going to do for me? Do I think the people who cause me grief are suddenly going to stop doing so just because I say so? Nope! So, what makes me think that my nosing around, adding my two cents, or whining makes any difference?
Alright now, back in your “car.” Rewind to Driver’s Ed and consider the instructions your teacher once gave you. When you’re operating a vehicle, you stay between the lines that mark your lane because what would happen if you swerve on over the line to where the next car is driving? You’ll crash! If, for some reason, you need to veer out of your designated path while driving, a good driver always gives notice by way of using a turn signal to indicate “hey, I’m coming over into your territory!”
Of course, we’ve all seen plenty of bad drivers who just dart in-and-out wherever they feel life causing others to slow down, swerve out of their path (possibly even affecting other drivers), or even cause accidents. Same goes for all of us orbiting around one another’s lives. If I just stay in my own place where I belong, no one gets hurt, no one gets angry, and no one is stressed! What I do doesn’t change the course of someone else’s day, and I arrive where I need to be feeling peaceful and pleasant!
What good will it add to my life to be critical of the tacky bumper stickers or petrified French fries cluttering up someone else’s car? What business is it of mine how that other driver could afford that expensive new car? How is it making me a better person to judge the driving style of someone in another lane? All that does is fill me with negativity, divert my attention from where it needs to be, and open the flood gates for others to be critical of me.
Being a negative person always worrying what other people are doing, thinking, saying, spending, and so on is like setting out a welcome mat for gossip, jealousy, anger, misunderstandings, damaged relationships, and so much more to set up camp at your door. Who wants that?
If you fear you’re not good enough, why? Who is it you’re trying to impress and why does their opinion matter so much?
If you are angry because you feel people are rude, make bad choices, and are generally bad examples of human beings, let them! Who are you to stop someone else from showing their true self? If they are that awful of a person, then it’s no secret to others (or it will be discovered). Hey, at least it’s not you acting that way or maybe those people can serve as an example to others of how not to act. In any case, these people will have to lie in the beds they make and learn from their mistakes.
If you are trapped in a pit of self-pity and sorrow because someone has hurt you, broken your heart, or taken advantage of you, ask yourself why you shouldn’t celebrate them leaving your life? You deserve better than to be trampled all over, so if someone has left or mistreated you, bid them good riddance and recognize that they are the ones missing out on a good thing while they flounder around trying to figure out what they want in life.
It’s time to let all of the garbage that others bring into your life- or that you hoard yourself- go! When you dedicate so much of your time and attention to what people in other “cars” are doing, you are wasting away precious bits of your own life that you can’t get back. You are allowing people who may not be thinking of you at all to control your thoughts and emotions with little possibility that any of that stress will change anything for the better.
I can guarantee you that very few of the things you are worrying about are actually being worried about by someone else, and very few of the people who you are allowing to rule your life with stress are all that concerned about what you think. Sure, you may be a fellow planet spinning around in the same solar system, but how likely are they to really change what they think or do because of you? I know for a fact that my ex, my husband’s ex, in-laws, and others who have contributed to the gray in my hair are not going to skip a beat because of my opinions, so why do I care about theirs?
This article originally appeared on Divorced Moms
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