Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Dealing with Stress

A friend once said, when sober is your altered state of consciousness, you might have a problem.

For me, not being stressed is a foreign concept. There is typically something I can find to be worried about. These things revolve around my work, my extended family, my kids and husband. When those things are going smoothly, I start thinking about more global problems, the war, politics, the environment, women's/men's rights, etc.

It's no secret that I don't do well with stress. Yet, I find myself worried most of the time.

I've found I try to not dwell on the things I can't change. There are little things I can do about the environment or the war. I can recycle and attempt to car pool. I can put those mercury filled light bulbs throughout my home. I can start thinking about how far my food and goods have travelled to get to me. For the war, I can continue to speak up among friends about my opinion and also vote.

But other than that, I try not to worry about larger issues. While I'm just one person, I can't fix the whole world. I only have so much energy.

It's the same with my family, extended family and my work. Many of the issues I face have been around for quite some time. They were around long before me, and they will be around long after me. On my good days, I recognize that it's up to people themselves to make changes in their lives. I can only make changes in my life and how I react to things.

This is a foreign concept to me and I work with it every day.

Growing up mormon, I was taught that I had control of other people's thoughts and reactions. Mormons are taught that they need to be "a shining beacon" to try and encourage non-members to join. To show them the truth.

Mormon parents and family members are continually guilt-tripped if family members are not LDS - they are almost directly told that it is their fault. They could have been doing more. This does not allow a friend or family member to make up their own mind. It's a sales technique, to make the sale so personal and rejection personal as well.

A non-mormon isn't rejecting mormonism, they are rejecting the person.

Obviously, all mormons do not agree with this. Some recognize it for dysfunctional. But many do feel this way.

I think I've mentioned it before, mine and chanson's grandmother asked me at the last family reunion if there was something that she had done to cause me to leave mormonism. I was floored - I had left years before. If anything, I would have stayed mormon (despite the fact I didn't believe it) because I knew how devastating my apostacy would be to her and my grandfather. In other words, the concept that individual mormons have control over other people's beliefs is alive and well.

The ways I know how to deal with stress are by eating well. I have been exercising. I've been going to therapy. Because, let's face it, sometimes it's not easy to live with or listen to someone who is working through huge issues. Sometimes it's good to have an outside person reflect and respond. I've tried to cut myself some slack.

So my kids watch Thomas the Tank Engine for the fortieth time this week. So we go out to eat or carry out most days and the dishes are piling up. It's not the end of the world. In the end, my mental health is important - by taking care of myself, I will be taking care of the other things. And it's the most I can do.


C. L. Hanson said...

Re: So my kids watch Thomas the Tank Engine for the fortieth time this week. So we go out to eat or carry out most days and the dishes are piling up.

I gave up worrying about that sort of thing years ago. I'm not sure if that makes me a good example or a bad example... ;^)

Anonymous said...

Yesterday I went to the doctor to see if there was anything to be done about the heartburn that's been keeping me up at night. He said yes, but he couldn't figure out what was causing it, since I'm healthy, not overweight, and was watching what I ate. Finally he said, "It can also be caused by stress. Are you under any stress?" and right then, of course, I realized I was--mostly, of course, over things that aren't worth fretting about. Someday maybe I'll learn that. In the meantime, thank God for drug reps who give out free

Anonymous said...

My wife wonders what she could have done to save me. Nothing I tell her but I can still see she sometimes when we discuss my apostasy she thinks there is something she could have done.

Anonymous said...

chanson - thanks - I knew you'd appreciate the Thomas the Tank Engine reference in particular.

Laura - Sorry to hear you are stressed as well. Seems it's way too common these days. It IS very difficult to draw the line between things to worry about - and things not too. I'm here if you want to talk.

AZ - Yup. Sadly, this is the way things typically work and are preached from the pulpit in most wards. It's very sad. I think it's one of the most damaging things in a relationship - the person who stays mormon constantly beats themselves up and the person who leaves sees the pain that the other person feels - but has to live authentically. Ugh.