Sweating the Small Stuff and Its Consequences

Joe: Good morning Calliope.

Calliope: Hi Joe. Whats new?

Joe: I am still working on my stress book. Here is my latest newsletter which I have also incorporated into my book.

Sweating the Small Stuff and its Consequences

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Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.

~Leo Buscaglia~

First the big stuff. At its extreme, worry takes the form of a psychological disorder called obsessive-compulsive disorder. You get overcome by worrying about what you did and what you are about to do. You keep doing the same things over and over hoping to get it right this time. Being consumed by this disorder leaves little time for anything else and leaves you constantly exhausted.

Fortunately most people do not worry to this extent. Small matters can look large at the moment but in the long run don’t matter very much at all. Fear comes close to paralyzing them in everything they think or do.

Where does this fear come from? For many people, it dates back to early childhood when they were given the impression that they were not competent to do much of anything. True, most of us are not born prodigies but gradually learn survival skills and go on to develop special talents. Encouragement along the way helps us take our first faltering steps. Have you watched a baby learn to walk? The first awkward attempts lead nowhere. But with encouragement and support, babies are off and running before you know it.

Some parents are critical of everything their children do. Children naturally want to please their parents. But if nothing they do is acceptable, they tend to start worrying about whether they are worthwhile or just give up.

Such children grow into adults with no confidence in themselves and can start second guessing everything they do. They are not likely to take too many chances. They don’t trust themselves and seldom try to develop new skills. They might also go to the other extreme and strive for perfection in everything they do. In case you haven’t noticed, perfection is an impossible goal to reach.

So what’s the alternative? Having given up on perfection, what’s left? You can do your best. Your best depends on your energy, health, mood and skills. All of these might well vary from day to day. You might not be satisfied with your best, but you can’t do any better at the moment. You have given it all you’ve got. Perhaps you can do better at another time. But that doesn’t matter. You did your best right now.

Accepting your best means being kind, gentle and understanding of yourself and of your best efforts. It doesn’t matter what others think about you. You know you did your best and that’s all there is to it. While you are at it, learn to accept others as doing the best they can under their current circumstances. This approach will save you the trouble of worrying or fretting about things over which you have no control.

Life Lab Lessons

  • Let go of perfection as a personal goal.
  • Let go of fretting about what you consider your shortcomings.
  • Recognize your abilities and accept them for what they are.
  • Always do your best and be satisfied with it.
  • Accept the best others can do.
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