Lately I’ve honestly felt so overwhelmed and hopeless. Do I have anything really traumatic going on? No, I’m simply a wife and mother who is pregnant and so distracted by the ‘to-do lists’ and pressure of all that is building up that I have lost sight of what matters. It’s easy when you are passionate about something to want to do your best and if you don’t meet the self-imagined ideal to feel pretty crushed.
I’ve observed that most of my disappointment isn’t in the reality of the situation, but what significance I’ve attached to it. Feeling like scum when I made plain pasta with butter dinner because I didn’t see myself as the woman who prepared a meal on time, but the loser who is too lazy to give her husband and son the Pinterest meal she saw earlier because it meant she had to go to the store. Going to the store means I’d have to get dressed, probably brush my hair, find my checkbook (wait do I have enough money for this?), check my bank account, find a clean shirt and nothing looks right on me in this prego whale form, so maybe I’ll get it when I do my big shopping. Or flipping out because I tripped on the same thing AGAIN and taking it as sabotage from carefree clutter machines out to get me, instead of seeing it as shoes…on the floor, end of story. Sounds a little extreme…but if I’m honest with myself, that’s my thought process and when things happen I react like a crazy woman as I magnify or skew what is really going on. So what is an emotional, exhausted, stressed and overwhelmed lady to do?
Put on the breaks and do a fact check. Am I alive? Yes. Is my family? Yes. Then I really have a lot more going for me than so many already. I think the key to overcoming the bitterness and hopelessness that festers beneath the crazy schedules, the laundry piles, bills, family drama, and just exhaustion, is to change the perspective a little. Sure, we all know how easy it is to stay focused on the issue at hand, the traffic pile up, missing homework, and barking dog next door, but what is NOT so easy is shifting that perspective. I don’t have all the answers, but I have found if I focus on any one or combination of the following 5 things, though my circumstance may not change, my attitude and overall perspective certainly does.
#1- Take a deep breath
Taking a deep breath helps me take focus off the situation as I simply breath. It reminds me, hey I’m alive. Just shifting the environment a little can help take away that panic state of mind. I imagine I could find a link to post here to back up the correlation of breathing and stress reduction…maybe soon.
#2- Admit any possible irony or humor in the situation
Are you stuck in traffic because you took a new route to avoid highway traffic? Did you need a break and decide to go to Starbucks, and after you made sure you ordered everyone else’s perfectly, you drive off realizing you never even ordered yours? Are you about to yell out “BE QUIET!!!”? Sometimes simply noting the irony is enough to help you see things for what they are and not what they feel like.
#3- It might be a big pile of mess, but go ahead and put a cherry on it : Choose joy
Sometimes we have zero control over a situation, but we do have control over how we react to it. Realizing this can relieve some of the pressure and feeling trapped or hopeless. Embrace your silly side. Turn to music to take your mind off things. Sometimes for minor issues some dance tunes is all I need to shake off the crazy. For major life set backs, some good ole Don Moen praise and worship can be a life saver. Have a dance party, do a random cartwheel, or have a silly voice contest with your kids (or coworkers). Shift the focus from what you can’t do about it, to what you can 🙂
#4- Remember you aren’t alone
Not only have others dealt with this, others may be dealing with it alongside you. For me, this helps relieve some of the uncertainty and enables me to find strength. You don’t have to carry it all on your shoulders, and removing that expectation can be pretty liberating in and of itself. Sometimes this means reaching out to a friend, joining a support group online, or simply holding someone’s hand. The awesome thing is, you have access 24/7 to the best friend and most powerful advocate of all, God. His word promises us in Deut 31:8 “The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
#5- Cultivate a thankful heart for good preventative maintenance
In the moment, focusing the positive things and expressing gratitude go a long way. Did your kid make a paper mess because they were putting together a card for you? Are you overwhelmed with all the social obligations….from all your friends and family that want time with you, the person they enjoy? One example that consistently shifts my mindset when there is no parking, is to recognize the gift of mobility. “Thank you Lord that I have the ability to walk this extra block without pain.” It took graduating high school on crutches for me to even realize some of the simple things we take for granted. When I’m consistent with this step, I notice that it becomes my go to response before agitation. Veggie Tales sums it up: “A thankful heart is a happy heart..”
Do I remember these tips every time my son spills something in the backseat? No. Do they suddenly provide me the money to pay for the random branch that fell from our tree into the neighbors yard? No. What they DO help me with, when I remember, is to shift my perspective and keep my eye on the prize and not the trials. What’s really the worse case scenario in any situation? Death? Well, if we know our salvation is secure in Christ, even that shouldn’t trouble us. The reality is, we aren’t here to relax and be happy…we are here to share God’s love and grace with those around us that they may come to know Him more. This truth can set us free…and sometimes overwhelm us with the weight of responsibility when we don’t remember who is really in charge. Non of this chaos takes Him by surprise, and if He isn’t freaking out about anything, why should we? I can’t help but think of those powerful hymn lyrics,
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.”
So next time you notice a bald spot from pulling your hair out over everything that’s on your shoulders, breath, laugh, dance, hug someone and be thankful that you have hair to pull out. You are loved, you are not alone, there is hope 🙂
Have you ever tried any of these? How did it go? Any more ideas or tips to add to the list? Remember #4, we are in this together, so leave a comment and let me know what you think.