People can be very annoying, particularly in supermarkets. The other day, they were being deliberately obstructive: standing around; staring into space; loitering for several seconds, three deep, in front of a vegetable I was gunning for; even (cardinal sin) turning their trolleys round (slowly, while on the phone) and driving back in the wrong direction! I know. Unbelievable.
I found myself – gentle, mild mannered me with blessedly little stress in my life at the moment – saying some not very nice things to them in my head. I won’t tell you what they were but let’s just say, if you know me (and are a mind reader) you’d be shocked. Whether it was the deadline or the menopause or the fact I’d realised in the car park, that I’d somehow failed to put on matching shoes, I seemed to have had a complete character transplant. It was quite disturbing.
I find the whole stress thing fascinating. I always assumed I got stressed occasionally because of too many deadlines, an impossible workload and lack of time to do the other things I really wanted to do. But I don’t have that so much this year (*profound gratitude*) so why was I letting a few people in a supermarket stress me? I wasn’t even in a hurry. I have always thought of myself as an easy going person.
Hmm. Something comes to mind that a family member said recently. She was home for the weekend and I had got her up for a fully cooked breakfast, listed the things we could do that day, and checked her food preferences for that evening and the next day.
“Mum,”she said, covering my hand with hers. “I’m really grateful for all this stuff, but what’s the hurry? I’m home to chill. Just go with the flow, yeah?” I frowned. Why was I in such a hurry? I shrugged and poured myself another coffee.
“Of course!” I said.
I remembered something Dad said to me earlier in the year, not long before he died.
“Daughter,” He had brown eyes which, even in those final weeks of pain and uncertainty, shone like polished conkers, “One thing I’ve learned in recent years is to slow down. Or… you just get to the end of your life quicker.”
So I’ve put together a little list to help me. In reverse psychology.
How to be stressed: –
- Never live in the moment. Always be thinking about the next thing on your list
- Try to get everything done in double quick time
- Be target orientated not people orientated
- Spend time envisaging what could go wrong so you can plan for it not to happen
- When big stresses are removed, just lower your stressed thoughts to the next most stressful thing
- When people muck up your plans, get rid of them. Plans are more important than people
- Don’t waste time admiring small things – birds, trees, the colour of dahlias – or you will get behind on your schedule
- Never ask for help
- Don’t go with the flow
- Don’t talk to God
I believe we are fearfully and wonderfully made, to a specific design. Like IKEA furniture but better. Life, with its constantly changing battles and blessings, is wonderful or terrible or somewhere inbetween. We can’t always change what happens to us. But once in a while, we have those flashes of revelation: a word, a whisper. Like the one I had: ‘Maybe circumstances are not entirely to blame’.
It amazes me the way we have the ability to hide things from ourselves, sometimes for years. In fact, it may take a whole lifetime to work out who we really are. This can seem profoundly depressing, but we are not alone. Help is at hand, a word, a whisper – from God or life or the colour of dahlias. If we let them, if we listen.