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Short and Sweet Summary: When the sky is falling and hysteria takes over your brain, train yourself to stop overthinking the worst-case scenario like Chicken Little. How about trying not to believe everything you’re told instead?
Has this happened to you?
You’re going along all fine and dandy, smiling, maybe humming to yourself, the sun is shining, everything is A-Ok when all of a sudden…out of nowhere…an errant thought takes over your brain, anxiety rears its ugly head and the world is coming to an end.
It’s terrifying, isn’t it?
One minute everything is just fine and the next minute the sky is falling.
Thankfully, I have some good news for you. You can take a few cues from the folktale archives and learn how to ignore the anxiety monster who tries desperately to take up space in your head. He’s a bastard. But you can learn how to ignore him. If I can do it, you can do it.
Confession: The sky falls more times than I care to admit.
In this post, I’ll share a few nuggets of wisdom I’ve used to help me control my own hysteria.
The Story of Chicken Little
One of my favorite folktales is the story of Chicken Little (aka Henny Penny) who believes the sky is falling when an acorn hits him on the head. This cute, sweet little chicken convinces everyone around him the world is coming to an end and the sky is falling.
Chicken Little recruits his friends, Ducky Lucky, Goosey Loosey, Henny Penny, Cocky Lockey, and Turkey Lurkey to follow him to tell the King. Everyone believes Chicken Little’s story about the falling sky because, well, he said the sky was falling. What more proof do they need?
Then they meet up with sly Foxy Loxy, who promises to take them directly to the King. Well, even if you didn’t know the story, you can guess how this one ends.
In one ending, Foxy Loxy lures the animals to his lair and eats them. The moral of this story is don’t believe everything you’re told. Hysteria will lead you on the wrong path.
In another ending, Cockey Lockey survives and warns Chicken Little who escapes. The moral of this story is to not be a Chicken. Have courage and the mental fortitude to take your surroundings into account and make your own damn decisions.
Don’t Panic like Chicken Little
Calm is not a word most widows use to describe themselves. Our world imploded. Everything collapsed, and digging out of the wreckage one excruciating day at a time doesn’t really invoke a sense of calm.
But panic doesn’t help either. Like, at all.
I spent the first two years of widowhood in a CONSTANT state of panic. Month after month I convinced myself the business would go under and I’d have to go on public assistance. I thought my son would drown ice fishing. Someone stranger would abduct my other son while riding his bike home from his friend’s house.
I even convinced myself that cyber-terrorists were going to hijack my investments and leave me penniless. I mean, for real.
Not only that, but my own irrational fear of dying took anxiety to a whole new level. It’s embarrassing to even admit, but one time I went to see the doctor for chest x-rays because I convinced myself that my shoulder pain was a symptom of lung cancer.
I kid you not.
Panic and I were joined at the hip those first few years. But nothing I worried about ever happened. Nothing.
What worked for me instead of struggling with panicked thoughts was eduating myself on how to solve the problem I was worried about in the first place.
”You can’t wring your hands and roll up your sleeves at the same time.” Pat Schroeder
Here’s what I did:
- I got certified as a women-owned business and learned about networking opportunities and programs to enhance business development and growth.
- I learned about ice fishing. Clear ice that has a bluish tint is the strongest. Ice formed by melted and refrozen snow appears milky and is very porous and weak. My son can’t ever go out alone and we need to determine ice thickness before he goes out.
- I called Vanguard to make sure I understood every single nuance of their security procedures. Turns out they have several layers of protection including voice recognition. I made sure my investment account covered every layer.
Stay informed. Stay vigilant about your kid’s safety, obviously.
And, in the meantime, take action by looking for a solution to the problem you’re obsessing over.
Don’t Believe Everything You’re Told like Ducky Lucky
Have you ever heard the saying, “if it bleeds it leads?” The media likes to scare us into watching their news programs and reading their newspapers so they lead with the most terrifying stories. When I walk on the treadmill in the morning and watch the news, I’m pretty sure my kid’s going to die from the flu this season because it’s the “worst flu season on record.”
I don’t know why I watch the news because I’m convinced I’ll get carjacked, die in a plane crash or contract Ebola.
According to the media, the sky is falling. Every. Single. Day.
Misery loves company so anyone who is going through anything even remotely miserable would like you to jump on the misery bandwagon.
- Crime rates are at an all-time high in your area!
- Don’t travel – the world is a dangerous place!
- The fluoride in your tap water is making you sick!
My advice is to log off from the constant news feeds once in a while and take a break from all electronics.
And for the love of everything good and holy, get the hell off of Facebook. The stories of happy, perfect families are not only nauseating but completely unrealistic.
You can’t believe what you read on your Facebook feeds, 24-hour news channels or text updates if they’re turned off.
Don’t Try to Control the Universe Like Me
My biggest, most gigantic personality flaw is that I like to control things. But, things don’t like to be controlled. Especially people.
Most definitely teenagers.
I think the sky is falling because my 9th grader failed his math class. In my attempts to control the universe, I placed many restrictions on his privileges until his grades got better. I took away his phone and iPad. Talked to his counselor. Visited with the principal. I reminded him of late and missing assignments. We had weekly progress reports. I even threatened to take away his sports.
He still failed.
Because unless it matters to him, it doesn’t matter. Every time I run directly into a brick wall, I’m reminded that I don’t control shit. Especially people.
Most definitely teenagers.
I can stop paying for a phone but I can’t make a person do something he doesn’t want to do. *sigh*
It is what it is.
Some things aren’t meant to be controlled with white-knuckle, tight grip, iron fists. In order to stop the sky from falling, we must realize that our need to control the outcome won’t prevent the final outcome. Or, I must realize this. You can come along for the ride if you wish.
The sun rises, the ocean ebbs and flows and the Earth spins on its axis with absolutely no help from me. The less I try to control, the better off I am.
Widow Wrap Up
The sky is falling around these parts more than I care to admit. I laugh at the absurdity of it all because when someone asks me what’s wrong and I say the sky is falling it’s my own, personal cue to really take look at the problem. I think the sky is falling because I have a huge problem with absolutely no solution until I calm the fuck down and find a solution.
Not everything requires a solution.
Either way, I spent too many years with Chicken Little syndrome. Now I’m ignoring Chicken Little because he’s a little shit that likes to stir the pot. Mother fucking pot stirrer. I’m not listening to you anymore!
Are you ignoring the Chicken Little voice in your head? Or is the sky still falling for you? Please share in the comments!