It’s easy to be worried and stressed, isn’t it? Far too easy. For many of us, it’s simply a gut reaction to certain situations and we don’t even think about it; we think that it just is what it is.
Or is it?
I’m going to propose another scenario. It may be our gut reaction, but no matter what the reason or circumstances, it is a choice to react the way we do.
Victor Frankl, in his amazing book, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” talks about life in the concentration camps of World War II. He observed that even in the harshest of circumstances, some people still maintained a positive attitude. While some were lamenting about their unspeakable living conditions, others enjoyed the beauty of the flowers on the weeds. How can this be? His basic premise is that our own attitude is the only thing in our lives over which we have total control.
I know that sometimes it doesn’t seem like we have a choice about the way we feel about some things, but if you really think about it you’ll realize that it is. Sometimes it is an obvious choice, but it is a choice nonetheless. For example, when a loved one dies you feel grief. You could, theoretically, choose to not think about it and, instead, think about something happy. No one said it would be easy, but the obvious choice here would be to feel your grief and let it out.
The other day something happened that made me angry. I don’t even remember now what it was, but it seemed pretty important at the time. I was stewing in my own juices, feeling the stress that only anger can bring when it dawned on me that my anger was a choice. As soon as I realized that, the anger disappeared like magic. I felt much more calm and relaxed, and realized that it was stupid to feel the way I did.
I’m not here to preach that you should always choose to be happy and carefree. I would, however, like you to at least realize what you are doing. It may just be that this new awareness will help you make choices that are easier on your soul. In times of stress you may decide that you don’t want to make another choice. That’s fine.
All I ask is that you think about it.
This article is one in a series on coping strategies for patients and caregivers alike. For more thoughts on caregiving, coping strategies, reducing stress, and just plain fun, subscribe to my free monthly newsletter at http://www.CaringAndCoping.com. Need a speaker for an upcoming event? I have a program that will knock your socks off! Watch video clips at http://www.ThePPP.org/speaking/#handle