How to Cope When Little Things Overwhelm YouIt has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are the most important. ~Arthur Conan Doyle
I have always been wary of the little things in life. The little things can steal my serenity, rob me of peace of mind and kill my joy.
At the same time, I have been aware of the little things in my life:
- The smell of freshly brewed coffee
- The overheard laughter of a stranger
- A spider web glistening with morning dew
How can I be defeated by little things or more likely, how can I LET little things defeat me? I identify with the concept of Chinese Water Torture as a method of ultimate despair — the premise being that drops of water fall onto the forehead of a restrained individual and ultimately render them insane.
What are your drops of water? Mine are innocuous and yet deadly.
- Laundry on the floor of my closet
- Cups left on the coffee table
- Dust on the baseboards
- Too many red lights
- The air too hot in a department store
These small and meaningless inconveniences are like water dropping on my forehead. I feel restrained and bound up in the realization that I have to handle them with joy, ease and with a socially acceptable amount of grace.
What I have is an unbridled inner frustration that makes my head spin around like a supernatural poltergeist.
I think it is a kind of poltergeist, the beast inside me, that I fear can jump out at any moment. I quietly put restraints on this beast and hide it deep within me, shackled in shame that I have created in my mind for fear of others finding out.
I smothered it in alcohol and buried it in control and put the flowers of perfection on the tombstone. Unfortunately, I buried it alive, only to rise again.
Handling the Big Things Successfully
In contrast, I think of the big things:
- Life decisions
- Ailing friends and family members
- School choices
- Job changes
- Car accidents
How am I able to live through these events and still maintain my serenity, peace of mind and joy? I am aware of a variety of behaviors and tools that I use in order to manage these important challenges in my life.
1. Stop Isolating
First and foremost, sharing with people who I love and love me really helps. Things like:
- Seeking empathy with warm hugs and tears
- Asking advice over a cup of coffee
- Requesting prayers
By connecting with others when I feel I am in (emotional/physical/spiritual) danger, I am spreading out the risk, being vulnerable and ultimately feeling a part of a larger group of people who hurt when I hurt and laugh when I laugh.
2. Time Takes Time
I typically allow myself some time, thought and prayer before I act on a solution. I am gentle with myself, understanding that time takes time and healing of hurts is not instantaneous.
I do not have the belief that I can do it alone nor that I should be able to handle it by myself. I am accepting of my limitations in the face of an event that is a Godzilla in my life. I find solace in fleeing with the crowd and seeking shelter together.
Lastly, I surrender it to my Higher Power, the God who created me and knows every hair on my head. A sickness or a death is worth His attention and so completely out of my control that only God can help.
It is easy to understand my powerlessness when I can’t even imagine a solution of this world.
Crossing Over Knowledge
So, since big things are manageable, how can I apply those principles to the little things in my life?
Am I willing to allow myself to admit little things are actually big things in disguise? One drop of water can’t kill me, but that same drop of water over and over again, day after day, year after year can drown me.
What if I applied those same principles for big things to my little things? Could I save myself from a slow death of unhappiness? Am I able to live with myself if I let others in to view the beast inside?
Think of each small frustration as a minion chasing after evil in order to worship it and serve it. If I am able to defeat each minion there will not be an army of failures to worship at my altar of shame.
1. Accept Yourself
So I hesitantly step forward to share my frustrations with another. I am not a terrible person because I get overwhelmed when there is laundry on the floor of my closet.
I just need a positive balance to offset the negative action. Maybe call a friend to talk to while I put the clothes away. At the same time, I am fighting off another minion of loneliness.
I am also slaying the shame that tells me this issue is ridiculous and shouldn’t be so hard. It is hard for me. There, I said it.
2. Be Reasonable With Yourself
Secondly, I set up some reasonable guidelines for action. Maybe I set my alarm for 15 minutes and pick up clothes for that time and stop when time is up?
I also begin to understand that all of these small things might not be mine to solve. Those cups on the coffee table are not mine; all I have to do is ask others to be responsible and expect results.
The stoplights? Within my control is the amount of time I need to get anywhere I am going. Instead of rushing, I can plan on leaving early and have a book in the car in case I have time to kill. Other inconveniences I can either accept as life or choose to find humor in.
3. Be Grateful For Everything
If God knows every hair on my head, then he also knows every dirty dish in my sink, every minute of loneliness, every wrinkled shirt and every missed opportunity I have to pray to him.
Each action in my life, every breath, can be an expression of Him and how much He loves me. He made the minions and He also made me.
If I thank him for the minions, then I will be grateful that each one allows me an opportunity to remind myself of how good God is in my life. Who is to say that I am not a minion to someone else? Imagine if everyone I frustrated thanked God for me!!!
“Drip, Drip, Drip,” can remind me that God is the living water, or it can drown me in my own insanity. Each drop can nourish my soul with gratitude or be another tear falling on my pillow.
The clarity of the water can reflect rainbows in my life and wash away my fears. I can pull against the restraints or fold into them, sliding peacefully away on the river of life. I can sink or swim — either way I will still be wet. I might as well enjoy it!