Doesn’t it always seem to happen that way? Everything, all at once, all of a sudden… goes south?
A disagreement with a friend. A situation at work. The car repair that drains your savings. The reoccurring, unexplained headaches. Your spouse keeps doing that thing that drives you c-r-a-z-y. That bill your forgot to pay and now you’re charged interest on. That deadline you’re not sure you can meet.
And you swear if your roommate leaves her dirty dishes all over the house again, you’re going to get a great big garbage bag and throw them all away (true story: I did that once. Not my finest moment).
These things by themselves don’t seem like such a big deal. But they never happen by themselves, do they?
And we’ve come up with sayings for this kind of thing.
“The sky is falling.”
“Is it a ‘Monday’?”
“When it rains, it pours.”
Why does it seem like we are the recipients of a truck load of unfavorable things? That instead of being spread out over a manageable amount of time, we’re left to deal with so many situations simultaneously.
This seems to be how it happens to me. Everything. All at once. Without relent or a break in the clouds. And instead of walking under my own personal rain cloud, I’m trying to get to the bottom of this.
Dealing With Things As They Come
Nothing makes a pile of work larger than adding to it (obviously). So when you feel like you’re “under the pile”, stop making the pile bigger by putting things off until later.
It sometimes feels better in the moment to say, “I’ll take care of that tomorrow” but I promise “later” will not deliver you a neat to-do list accompanied with a fruity drink, sandy beach and warm breeze. Instead, later will come back around twice as annoying and draining as before, and you will have wished you would have checked things off your list the first time around.
And I’m talking about more than avoiding procrastination with tasks; I’m talking about confrontation with people.
I’m absolutely guilty of this: avoiding confrontation with a friend or a messy situation in hopes that it will just disappear. Hoping that time will bring forgetfulness or resolve or anything so that I don’t have to address the issue(s). We’re not fighting now so we’re good, right? I’ll just wait until the dust settles and hopefully never have to talk about it again. Avoid. Ignore. Pretend. Sweep it under the rug.
Because confrontation is scary. And vulnerable. Because it opens up our hearts to show our hurts or our concerns, and it gives the other person the opportunity to take another swing at us while we’re unprotected. It shows that we care in hopes that they do too. What if they’re not sorry? What if they don’t want to change? What if they point out something I have to change? What if it things don’t get any better?
I often talk about one of the healthiest things that my best friend Lori and I do is regularly talk about things that bother us…about each other. I don’t want to wait until my list of small grievances with her turns into bigger problems which grows a root of bitterness or resentment. Sometimes it was a simple misunderstanding or a miss-communication. Sometimes an apology is in order. Either way, things we have done or said to each other are dealt with regularly and on smaller scale, preventing any large, ugly, hurtful things from hijacking our friendship.
We are going to hurt each other. We are going to say and do careless things. But we believe the best in each other enough to come face to face and talk about it.
Confrontation breathes truth and freedom into our friendship, and it makes the hard conversations worth it.
One Thing at a Time
Nothing makes my pity party full of more pop and pizzazz than listing off everything I can think of that’s pressing in on me…all in one sentence… without taking a breath.
Wouldn’t it be easier to separate out the moments and the types of things we’re dealing with instead of grouping them into one giant and overwhelming list? In one long list of issues, problems start to take on the shape and appearance of other problems. And they all start to blend. Because things always look worse when they’re tangled together.
And when you don’t sort it out, you end up yelling at your friend because your day at work was frustrating. And you get home and have a short fuse because someone earlier that day had a short fuse and it seemed to be contagious. And other problems begin to take on the wrath of something else that’s not really a part of that problem. And each situation seems to snowball into something much bigger.
If we dealt with one thing at a time, there would be no such phrase as “it feels like a Monday”, right? Because that phrase comes from a day of thing after problem after spilled coffee after irritable stranger that compiles into one dreaded day-“Monday”. But what if after we changed our clothes from that spilled coffee, we put that in the bin labeled “over with” and never mentioned it again?
Then we might make it to the end of the day with a much shorter list of problems and dilemmas because the things that are over with are OVER. And the things in tomorrow’s bin haven’t even been looked at yet because…..deep breath…we are dealing with things one day at a time.
Throw Up the White Flag
When the rain has been pouring for weeks and months, it may be time to throw up the white flag. Sometimes counseling, outside perspective and advice, is what you need to help sort it all out. Sometimes its more than circumstances, it’s neurological and medication might be needed–for a lifetime or for a season.
When I was 18, depression hit me harder than I could handle. The grief and reality of loss from my sister passing away 3 years prior took hold of me in a way I couldn’t explain or control. I could barely function. It took everything I had to just get out of bed in the morning. So I opened up myself to help. And you better believe I was medicated and sitting in that counselors office every Wednesday at 2 pm. For a time. Until my brain and my emotions could begin to function properly again. Because when tragedy strikes, things change, and so should our methods of dealing with them.
Because big things, terrible things, happen. More than just a latte-down-my-white-shirt-Monday, our days and weeks can be full of painful and difficult situations. We develop a coping mechanism or anger, or anxiety takes over because it’s just too much to handle. Because one way or another, we have to deal with the tough stuff.
And it’s okay to admit you can’t do it alone.
Because I truly believe we weren’t meant to do life alone.
Assessing the situation, dealing with things one at a time, and facing our fears through confrontation. Knowing when to ask for help. Trusting that the hard thing is probably the right thing, and that putting things off won’t make our days easier.
And as always, it’s much easier said than done.
Let’s step out from under our own personal rain cloud and believe that we can find a ray of sunshine on a rainy day.
And if not sunshine, a rainbow… a symbol of promise and hope that it won’t always be this way.