Does your world get thrown off its axis because of the actions of others? You find that you just got off the phone with your sister, mother, cousin, husband, or best friend, and suddenly the small crisis they are experiencing is weighing heavy on your heart and mind. You are anxious and fretting, trying to create solutions for someone else’s problems. Meanwhile, your previously peaceful mind is a torrent storm. The action or small crisis doesn’t impact your life in any way except someone you care about is going through something stressful. Yet you feel every minute of it.
What about when you watch the news? Does your chest tighten? Blood pressure skyrocket? Do you oscillate between sadness and rage throughout the segments?
I do. I hate watching the news because it saps my energy and makes me sad. I literally lose a tiny amount of faith in humanity each time I watch the news. And when someone I love is going through a trial I feel I have jump right in and help. In April I gained six pounds from stress eating because my younger sister was going through a destructive depressive episode, my best friend got laid off and then got into a car accident, our bills outweighed our income, and the world was (and still is) going to hell in a hand basket.
The supposed debunked myth that chocolate doesn’t cause acne is a myth. My face is exhibit A. In addition to the six unflattering pounds, pimples sprouted everywhere. There were big painful zits on my face, back, and chest. With a Hershey’s Chocolate with Almond bar half way to my mouth, it hit me. I was reverting to old coping mechanisms. Not only that, I was once again trying to fix my sister’s life and shield her from making more bad decisions. I was also trying to figure out how to keep my best friend from feeling discouraged. Wrong! All wrong and so misguided. You cannot protect anyone from life, and it will only hurt you and them if you continue to try. Truthfully, you can’t even protect yourself from the ups and downs of life so how arrogant is it to believe you can be a savior for someone else?
No person, no place, and no thing has any power over us, for ‘we’ are the only thinkers in our mind. When we create peace and harmony and balance in our minds, we will find it in our lives.Louise L. Hay
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I spent that night reminding myself that I cannot control anything in this world except my own actions and reactions. You know what? There is true comfort in that. I did not create the world, so I do not have the obligation nor power to protect or fix it. That is inner peace. Inner peace means having calm in the storm. It doesn’t mean life will be perfect. It doesn’t even mean you will be shielded from emotions. Inner peace is not the Fuck-Its. It is not apathy, which is the absence of emotions. True inner peace is the ability to care without taking on the burden; caring from an emotional distance.
Since I’m not rich and can’t buy my best friend a car, I just listened to her vent and tried to make her laugh. Instead of coming up with solutions for my sister, I prayed. And every time I got anxiety about her grief or put too much energy into determining what will happen next, I sent my sister a “thinking of you” text and sent up a little prayer for guidance for her. Then I reminded myself that she is an adult who has to live her life and learn her lessons just like everyone else. It also occurred to me that maybe she’d be missing out on personal growth if I kept intervening, which would be bad for her, her future, and her children.
When someone you love is going through something, the best thing you can do for them is pray or send them positive energy and step in where you can in small, meaningful ways. Be an ear, watch their kids for a day, take them out and have a good time. You are not obligated to fret and plot solutions. Your job is to be supportive; not the support. Gather your inner peace and be the calming presence for them.
Promise yourself from this point on, you will no longer take on other people’s burdens as your own.