It’s not that serious. This is my mantra lately as the worry and anxiety creep into my mind. You know, those middle of the night moments when you start thinking about the “to-do” list. Or worrying about being a good enough (fill in the blank). To avoid becoming consumed with these thoughts, I try to observe them and tell myself, “It’s not that serious”. Because most of it isn’t. It’s just my perception, the tunnel vision that takes over when I start overthinking. We can’t control life, but we can control our reactions.
So I start celebrating the little victories. “I worked out this morning!” “I made it to work on time (sort of)!” “My 4 year old brushed his teeth!”
In fact, I’ve been taking cues from my 4 year old lately. Children, especially our own, can be our greatest teachers. They are often a mirror of our own behavior. They watch our every move and will certainly repeat it. They also find our blind spots and point them out. When I am in a rush and taking life too seriously, he’ll ask me “Mom, why are you talking so fast (or loud)?” Or “Mom, why do you keep saying that?”, followed by, “Stop telling me, I already know”.
And I stop- take stock of what I am worried about and try to determine if indeed, it is worth it. Is it really about him, or is it about me? I then find myself wanting to mimic his ability to be in the moment, incapable of multi-tasking. By simplifying, the grip of anxiety starts to soften. It’s amazing how much smoother our commute to school can be when I let the last 20 minutes of trying to rush him out the door go. We stop worrying about the traffic, making up stories about why there are so many buses parked at the station (maybe they’re on a coffee break). He points out things I would have otherwise let slip by as I stare at the car bumper in front of me, like someone working on a roof, or the color of the clouds. We sing along to Sesame Street tunes. (I dare you not to smile when listening to these silly songs). He gives me “smooches” and a hug before pushing me out the door to his preschool. Then I smile, thinking about the moments we just shared instead of the “to-do” list as I head into a busy work day. (Another victory to celebrate!) After all, it’s not that serious. Life will still go on as it always does, bringing new challenges and opportunities to live in the moment. It’s up to us what to make of them.