Hannah: One of the Sweetest Cats to Ever Cat…
Have you ever seen an individual in the throes of stress? They look like they have it worse than anybody on earth. They act like the entire world… and possibly even God, Himself, is out to get them.
Some lash out in a temper tantrum like a 5 year old that’s being forced to leave the McDonald’s playground. Others sulk like one that never made it to the playground in the first place. Still others internalize their stress – keeping it all in and under wraps, at least for the time being. I say for the time being because, it’s sure to come out eventually and when it does… you don’t want to be anywhere near the event.
Stress is nothing more than a socially acceptable form of mental illness. – Richard Carlson
Stress can be sneaky. You can think you have a handle on it, but next thing you know, every little thing seems to set you off. After a while, you don’t even realize that SO MANY things are getting under your skin. You get so used to the feeling, you think it’s normal.
The saddest thing about this is the fact that you’re wasting precious moments, hours, days, weeks, months, and years of happiness and peace.
As far as I’m concerned, happiness and peace are two of the most beautiful words in the entire world. Why let anything stand between you and these two beauties?!
If any of this sounds remotely like you, I have good… make that great… news for you. You don’t have to live at stress’ mercy. You can do something about it and, quite frankly, the fact that you’re still reading means you are WELL on your way.
Coping Techniques for Stress
There are coping techniques for stress that you can experiment with. Use these techniques in your own life and find the ones that bring more peace into your life and happiness into your days.
There are those beautiful words again.
Blowing up, internalizing, sulking, stressing – these are all things that are causing damage inside your body. If you could somehow look inside and see what your inability to handle stress is doing, you’d find a way…. make a way… to cope.
I’m not judging and I’m not condemning. I’m probably the least judgmental person you’ll ever encounter. I get that everyone is different and I, honestly, love that fact. I also have read enough, observed enough, and simply know through good old common sense that everyone reacts to things differently. On any given day, three people can get a flat tire and each will react differently:
- One may cuss, pound the steering wheel, and search for the nearest person to blame – the road crew, the city, construction workers, the spouse (always a good one), God (yeah… He’s always home and has nothing better to do than pop tires), etc. The blamers of life are real pills, aren’t they? My oldest daughter and I watched a man outside of a coffee shop one afternoon a while back. Something wasn’t quite right under the hood of his truck and he put on a display unlike anything I’ve seen in a while. He hit the hood, he screamed at his mortified wife, he stomped, he kicked… Some people were laughing at him, my daughter said he was “gross” and I just went back to my coffee hoping I never met him face to face.
- One may tear up and have a little “poor me, nothing ever goes right for me” cry.
- The third one might just say, “Wow, didn’t need that, but at least no one was hurt. Oh well, if this is the worst thing that happens to me today, I’ve got it made.“
One person isn’t OVER ALL any better, smarter, or cooler than the other two. Each simply copes differently. The thing is, when we get to the place where we’re able to cope with stress like the individual in the third example, we’ll enjoy life more, we’ll function better, our health will be better, our relationships will be sweeter and we won’t be spectacles for others to laugh at, call gross, or wish we’d never even seen in the first place.
Irregardless of how we react to it, stress is a most unwelcome guest. Like all unwelcome guests, it boils down to two choices:
- Get rid of it. If there is anything within your power to deal with what is stressing you out, do so. Most things are within our control – it’s just easier to “hope” for change than it is to “work” for it. If you are physically, mentally, or emotionally unable to deal with it – find someone who can help you. There is no shame in asking for help – we all have to every now and then. And if it helps get rid of stress, isn’t it worth it?
- Learn to deal with it. I hate to be the one to break it to you, but sometimes you just have to make peace with a situation. This is especially true when what’s causing your stress within someone else’s hands. You cannot control other people, and shouldn’t even want to, if we’re being honest.
Let’s take a closer look at the second one… learning to deal with it, simply because this is the water most of us will find ourselves wading through. Often the things that cause us to “stress out” are things that we simply have no control over. The economy, politics, the media, sports, our grown children’s decisions – we’ll simmer over these worries until we’ve worked ourselves into a bundle of stressed out negative energy.
Over things we can’t control! What a waste of time and emotion. When we let things “get to us,” simply realizing it is the first step. Taking a deep breath (two, if it involves our children), and acknowledging that this is something beyond our reach is the next step.
The third step is where the magic is – make peace with it. Remind yourself, “You don’t have to like it… you certainly don’t have to love it. But you will not let it rob you of another minute of peace.”
As usual, this makes me think of animals… everything makes me think of animals! Recently, a MUCH loved cat of mine (Hannah) had approached old age.
Very old age, to tell you the truth.
During the last months of her life, she lost weight and just wasn’t herself. As someone who has, literally, had cats all of her life, I saw (but hated) the writing on the wall. I found myself getting so stressed out and sad over it that I realized that I wasn’t enjoying the time I had left with her as much as I should have been. When she first began losing weight and looking like the little old lady that she was, I found myself feeling heartbroken and sad when I was around her. Sometimes I’d even start to cry because I knew time was running out.
I caught myself one day, though, and made up my mind to stop focusing on the negative and concentrate on the positive. I’d had this beautiful little cat in my life for many years and whether it was months, weeks, or days that I had left with her – they were going to be happy days. Days celebrating her living, not days dreading her dying. I made peace with something that was the last thing I wanted to make peace with. However, it was inevitable and you know what fighting with the inevitable causes, right?
I did, of course, lose Hannah to old age. But I chose (and choose) to focus on the fact that I had one of the sweetest-natured, most beautiful, and spoiled rotten cats ever! She was my constant companion when I walked, did yard work, or just sat on the ground with her. She loved having her picture taken and would ALWAYS roll onto her back to show off her belly. She was uncommonly proud of that belly!
We gave her a wonderfully happy life and she brought more sunshine into our lives than you can imagine.
Sometimes if you want find peace, you simply have to make peace.
After all, when you think of peace, what do you think of as its “opposite?” War, right? If you aren’t living “at peace,” you are living “at war.” How miserable and unhealthy does that sound?!
Before you can actually deal with stress, however, you have to identify your triggers. In the example above, the man in front of the coffee shop obviously couldn’t cope with adversity. (Good luck with life, buddy.) I also wonder if a little bit of feeling helpless had something to do with his performance. After all, if he knew what to do, wouldn’t he have been doing it rather than acting a fool? The lashing out at his wife was probably somewhat of a defensive reaction to keep from showcasing that he didn’t know what to do. (Pick up the phone… call someone who does… easy peasy…)
We can’t all know everything and there is no shame in simply smiling and saying, “I know as much about this as I do the mating habits of the blue footed boobie.” There never has been and there never will be any shame in admitting that you’re human.
Some of my favorite people in the world are human.
Other people are triggered, seemingly, when they think the world isn’t doing enough for them or giving them enough.
My advice for these people is this: The world doesn’t owe you anything. If this is your thinking, let me hasten to point out that you’ve got it all twisted…. You owe the world. Start giving and you won’t have time to throw a pity party. Also, while you’re at it, stop complaining that others aren’t doing enough for you. If you want something done, do it. Try this on for a while: Go out of your way to do things for other people. Compliment them, smile at them, help them out whenever and however you can.
There’s a great old saying, What goes around comes around – maybe you’ve been living that out and what you’re receiving is what you’ve been giving… or, in this case, haven’t been giving.
Just a thought.
A third stress trigger is feeling overwhelmed – like life is just giving you too much at one time. We’ve all been there and few of us ever want to go back.
The emotions, turmoil, and so forth that surrounded my mom’s sudden death in 2006 left me feeling like I was completely and totally spent. If not for prayer and an outstanding family, I might still be in bed with the covers over my head.
I actually remember the day that I “got up,” emotionally. I hadn’t physically stayed in bed for days after losing my mom, but my spirit sure did. With the covers pulled tightly around its head.
Then, one day, I was in the back of the house and I heard my husband and our youngest daughter in the front of the house looking for something. I knew that, not only was this dynamic duo completely helpless when it came to finding anything, they’d make a colossal mess trying. I flipped a switch that I’d forgotten even existed and, literally, rejoined my family.
Sometimes we have to admit that we’ve “gone under.” Make no mistake about it, we all do at one time or another – we feel overwhelmed and worn out. The trick is not to stay there. Remember Lao-Tzu’s words, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” If relationships, finances, work, or another potent opponent has you on the ropes…. or even if it has knocked you to the mat!… you have a choice to make: Are you going to stay there or are you going to fight back?
The answer to your triggers, your problems, your adversities, and your stress lies inside of you. Find someplace quiet and sort things out. Stop placing blame on anyone, beginning with yourself. Blame is the most irrelevant and useless expense of energy I can think of. Forge past blame, forge past self-pity, and forge past anger. Find the solution you need to either remove your personal stress from your life or determine how you’ll learn to deal with it.
Life is too precious and the world is too beautiful to spend any measurable time whatsoever “on edge” or “stressed out.”