This post is long, but believe me, I think it’s a post worth reading, especially if you find yourself getting overwhelmed in life.
So, when I was in high school, I had an episode of anger one day, that ended up changing me for life.
I won’t get into what got me so angry, but I let myself get so mad at a situation that I blew up in the hallway. I punched the library door to where I put a dent into it, and I threw a garbage can across the hallway.
They sent up a few security guards because they thought a big fight was going on, but it was just me. Though I was angry at someone, I took it out on the door and garbage can. Anyway, they told me I could go home for a day, or get suspended for three. I took the day off.
When I came back, I was called into the office by one of my acting teachers, and he gave me a bit of advice I’ve carried with me ever since. I’ve referred to it several times to people, but I’ve really only given it back to people to I felt needed it. I don’t know if he remembers having this talk with me, but I’ve always held it close. It’s helped me through a lot, and helped me have the ability to let go of things when they get tough.
I share it with you today. I’m paraphrasing, of course. This was over twenty years ago.
“As we go through life, we tend to go through stress and have problems. Think of those problems as items you place on your back. As you walk through life, you may pick up a bag. You carry that bag on your back, and and along the way, you may pick up a chair.
You grab that chair, place it on top of the bag, and keep walking. Then you may come upon another bag. You pick up that bag and place it on the chair. You keep walking…
Eventually, you’ve accumulated a stack of problems on your back, and before you know it, when you come to that next item and you try to place it on your back, the whole pile comes tumbling down, you explode and many of those objects you’ve been carrying break apart in the crash.
The best thing to learn how to do, is, when you are carrying something on your back and you come upon another item, try to put down the item you’ve been carrying, and do this over and over as you come upon items that you come across. You are still carrying something on your back, but it is not a pile of things that will come crashing down around you.
Whatever you have on your back is manageable, and you can continue on your journey with less stress. So, no matter how much you pick up along the way, let something go as you do it.”
I get asked often how I’m able to manage my stress and still have a smile on my face and stay positive in the face of adversity. This is one of the ways I do it. No matter what I go through, I try to put down a problem for the one I’m picking up. I let go of it so it doesn’t pile up on top of other problems and eventually come crashing down all around me. I never wanted to have an episode like that again and let my anger get to me to where I was at the point of losing control.
It’s not always easy, but whenever I start to get overwhelmed, I remember that story, and I try to let go of some of my issues. I’ve come to learn that no matter how angry or upset I get, the anger won’t change the situation, and it’s always better to make decisions with a clear head. Sometimes it takes a walk, or listening to some piece of music, or drawing… whatever it is, I do something about it and take the time to think before I say anything or act.
It’s always better to stop for a moment and calm yourself. Ask for time from the person you’re angry at, or walk away for a bit to breathe, as opposed to saying or doing something you’ll regret, later. It’s better to think about what you actually mean and not say something hurtful than to say the most hurtful thing you don’t mean and try to ask for forgiveness later. It’s kind of like taking care of yourself, physically. It’s better to try and prevent a disease or illness than it is to try and take care of it once you have it.
Preventative care for the soul, if you will.
Anyway, that’s the story. I hope it may do for some of you what it’s done for me. I’m forever grateful to him for it. He helped shape a big part of who I am and how I go through life, today.