Staying Calm in a Stressful World

We all have stressors. Mine are known to me. By now, I should know how to deal with them. But they tend to sneak up on me when I least expect them.

My biggest stressors at this stage of my life are well-meaning people who try to change me.

I’m a writer who lets words flow until I get to the end of my story. I have friends who insist I need to be a plotter. I can’t. I’ve tried. I’m a “pantser” and it works for me. I impose structure on my manuscript after it’s written, not before. If I am going to enjoy writing, I have to do it my way.

I have friends who try in overt (and sneaky) ways to impose their beliefs on me. I admire their dedication to their opinions. I politely read every article they send me. I do not argue or try to make them change. But please leave me in peace to make my own decisions.

And then there’s Facebook and Twitter, two social media platforms I use to keep in touch with friends and readers. I love seeing family milestones, pets, accomplishments, vacation pictures, kids. I don’t love being inundated with propaganda from outside sources (many of which prove to be false or are designed to invoke a particular response). I have learned to quickly pass over, or in extreme cases, hide these posts from my timeline. And yet they persist.

Everyone has stressors…family member, job, finances, health impediments, new life situations. The trick is learning how to deal with them so they don’t drag you down. I’ve learned to be comfortable with myself and my choices and it’s been a long time coming. I’ve also discovered I can like people who don’t share my beliefs or opinions. I can appreciate the learning opportunities from situations not of my choosing. And I can ignore what I cannot change.

The serenity prayer, used for decades by people overcoming addictions, has become relevant for me with its simple message: change what you can, don’t stress about what you can’t, and know the difference.

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