We tend to freak out when something goes wrong. Our hopes turn to doubts, our dreams to worries, and our thoughts to fears. Why do we go into panic mode when the slightest problem occurs?
A couple days ago, I was 35 minutes late to class. That was a huge deal for this prompt-in-theory kind of girl. All I could think about was the traffic we had to sit in and how late I was going to be. When I finally arrived, all I could do was stare at my feet as I walked to my seat.
Do I want to get in the habit of being late to class? No. But things happen. Plans change.
If you have a perfect plan in mind, there’s always the risk of it falling apart. Sometimes this happens because our world is fallen, and bad things just happen.
But, sometimes, we’re the ones who cause our plans to get ruined…and stay ruined.
For example: You have a family vacation planned. Little Joey gets sick, and the family has to stay home. They have to postpone their vacation for three weeks because their hotel has been booked solid by other vacationers. The family stays at home and does nothing for the next few weeks.
That’s the family’s fault.
What could they have done instead? Oh, I don’t know. Go out for ice cream, rent a movie, get together with friends, play a new game, drive downtown, go shopping at the mall…
They could’ve done lots.
Humans tend to blow things way out of proportion (especially females…ahem). We make things bigger than they are, and this causes anxiety, fear, and dissatisfaction to pile up. Instead of trying to find a solution or somehow make the problem easier to deal with, we give up.
We are give-uppers. (Or is it giver-uppers? Giver-ups? Ugh. I give up.)
Simply put, we make mountains out of mole-hills.
Need some examples? (I’m sure you don’t, but I’m gonna share some anyway).
- Your calendar says you have a dentist appointment today, so you decide to go shopping and eat out. The dentist office calls and says that the dentist became ill and can’t see you today. You hang up the phone, stay home from the shopping center, and eat a bag of sour gummy worms. (They are amazing, but, unfortunately, they can’t do miracles.)
- Your friend and her family are coming over for dinner, and you want to make a good impression. You want to have steak, mashed potatoes, and green beans. The grocery store is out of Green Giant green beans, so you call your friend and tell her she’ll have to come over on a different night.
- You’re late for work for the third time this month because the bus picked up your kids late for school. As you drive to work, you start tearing up because you can’t bear the embarrassment of being late again. You ask your friend to tell your boss you aren’t feeling well and then stay at home in bed.
These problems are fixable. They are little mole-hills.
- Go shopping anyway! Look at the new spring dresses. Try on the heels that are calling your name. Call a friend or take one of your kids to eat out with you. Schedule the dentist appointment for a different day and roll with it.
- Buy a different brand of green beans, or try a different vegetable recipe you know is delicious. Or turn the whole night into a Mexican fiesta instead of a fancy meal.
- Go to work, keep your tears intact, apologize to your boss, and pray that everything goes smoothly tomorrow.
We turn simple into complicated. It is not the end of the world when something goes wrong. And when something goes wrong, it was meant to go wrong. It was meant to be. (And if it’s meant to be, nothing went wrong. Something actually went right.)
But, even knowing that, we still tend to make things bigger than they really are.
Making a meal for your relatives seems like you’re preparing a feast for the Queen of England. Doing a class skit feels like you’re performing on Broadway. Running late for an appointment feels like you’re running late to a book signing for your New York Times bestseller. Burning a batch of cookies seems like a kitchen catastrophe.
There’s nothing you can do to change so-called “mistakes”. See if there’s a lesson you need to learn. Try to do better next time if you can.
You can’t always do something to fix the situation. You can’t make Joey’s sickness go away; but you can read to him in bed and rent a movie for everyone to watch together.
Some things you can change. Some things we make worse because we don’t choose to take action.
We choose action–or apathy–based on the voice we choose to listen to.
So whose voices do we listen to?