You should feel bad. You should feel real bad.
And so goes the voice in my head. And so, I do. I feel real bad, like an obedient lemming. Obedient to my own brain. And who doesn’t trust their own brain? It’s inside your own skull for crying out loud!
Thus reads the script for the villain of our piece: Anxiety.
Now, this isn’t stress. They say stress can be healthy: making you think faster, jump higher, lift cars off of babies, etc.
This begins as worry. Which, if left unchecked, erodes into the symptoms of anxiety, and a whole mess of survival instincts making you punch the air at invisible demons – never a pretty sight for mama to do while getting supper on.
But worry sneaks up on an unsuspecting, hormonal woman like a bandit. Suddenly, her breathing is shallow, her eyes dart around wildly, and she cannot remember anything beyond the next 5 minutes.
The weird thing is how worry justifies its presence in headquarters. You see, in my brain, I am sure that I am diligently concerning myself over a matter. Thinking it through. Giving it proper consideration. But when I catch my reflection in a mirror, I’m surprised by how I just look sad, and old. Not intelligent. Not thoughtful. But just an unhappy, worrisome lady. Hmm. Wonderful reality check. I suddenly realize it doesn’t take any brain power at all to worry. There is no higher cause. No lofty goal. Nothing accomplished.
I sense the futility of worry, and simply figure it’s because I’m not doing it enough! So it feels only fair to worry about more things as they come up. After all, this train is already moving. All aboard!
It’s the strangest thing. But I honestly feel like I am doing the world a great service by worrying about its problems. It’s like, my act of service. I look on Facebook for a quick moment to catch up on the lives of my friends and family. But I zero in on the shared articles. Oh no, the Syrian refugees! Oh no, a tragic car accident in my county! Oh no, vaccines are actually going to give all of my children brain tumors!
Now, bad stuff really is going on in this world that really does warrant thoughtful solutions, attention, and care. But I would venture to say, all of these problems benefit nothing from my worrying over them. When my worry does not pair up with any meaningful action toward a solution, I profit nothing, and neither do they. No party is better off for all of my diligent, hard wrought worry.
Now brain, take stock of where you are heading: the Land of Anxiety. Where your worry bleeds over into impairing everyday activities in which you need your full capacity: like raising your children, running a functioning home, growing a baby, and being a fun and happy companion to your husband.
Something must be done.
You’ve got to cut off from the source.
You’ve got to find your happy place.
Right. Good idea. But…
But that sounds so flimsy! So useless and impractical! So much like inspirational coffee mug quotes! Who are you, some soft-spoken mountaintop guru who has never lost it and yelled at a kid while changing their diapers? (Er, not that I have…)
Welp, it may sound that way, but it’s actually as practical as prescription drugs, and just as powerful. Try it.
Find your happy place. It will switch your brain’s gears. It’s an act of sedition against the regime of Worry and Anxiety. They won’t know what hit ’em. Because they’re sure you wouldn’t try something as flimsy and stupid as all that. You’re a diligent worrier, after all…
Here, I’ll start. This is where I found it (and didn’t find it) today:
Slouching at the desktop: Not Happy Place.
Reclining on my favorite couch with my cat curled at my legs: Happy Place.
Squinting down into my phone: Not Happy Place.
Leaning back against my car and looking up at the trees: Happy Place.
First cup of coffee in the morning: Happy Place.
Third cup of coffee in the late afternoon: Not Happy Place.
Chewing my cheek while looking at my expanding calendar of appointments: Not Happy Place.
Sending difficult messages, politely declining previous engagements: Eventual Happy Place.
A mentor of mine once said, “Above cleanliness, organization, organic recipes or pinterest-perfect activities, what your kids REALLY need is an unstressed Mom.”
After all, isn’t that what we remember most about our childhoods:
Not how our toys magically put themselves away every night, but the emotional climate of our home. How it felt to be around Mom. Eye on the prize, worry-brain. Eye on the prize. What is at stake here? Okay then, good.
Now go find your happy place.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8