When attempting to recognize what it is that has kept me afloat during 14 really difficult years of intense parenting, the one thing that I would have to point to is emotional self-management. Every day I have to work on myself to realign my thoughts and feelings and to take care of myself emotionally. Maintaining a significant amount of emotional energy is necessary to face the crisis that come our way and to live with the daily drama of it all.
For me there are five things that completely suck my emotional energy. If I can avoid these five things, I have what I need to maintain an emotional equilibrium.
1) Worry about tomorrow. As Leo Buscaglia says, "Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy." A very high percentage of the things we worry about never happen anyway and worrying about them saps us of energy and joy. So I make a point to let go of worry every day.
2) Regret about yesterday. Regret is such a wasted emotion! There is absolutely nothing that we can do about the past -- we can only move forward and live the future. If people spent the energy they wasted on regretting the past on doing a better job today they would have less regrets in the future! Not exactly well said, but a profound thought. The only day I can change is today. Letting go of regret helps me to live better now!
3) Anger. Anger towards family members -- our kids, spouses, parents, in-laws, whoever. Anger towards the county for not giving us all the information or for refusing us services. All of that anger simply drains us of any energy that we might have to make a difference. Anger is a motivator -- so if anger helps move you towards advocating for change, it isn't always a bad thing. But if it settles in you and eats away at you, you'll never have the energy you need to make it through the things ahead.
4) Unforgiveness. I wrote a blog post about this just a few weeks ago, so I won't repeat myself. Forgiving is so freeing!
5) Determination to change everyone else. Again, I blogged about this recently, so I'll include the link instead of saying it all again. I'm a control freak, so for me this dogged determination that I am going to MAKE people do things is the biggest energy sucker of all.
My challenge for you, and for myself today, is to choose one of the items above that is problematic for you, and vow to live without it just for one day. Then pay attention to how you feel.... you may find you feel so much better that you'll choose to let go of it every day!
Remember, change the day that you can -- today, and the person that you can -- yourself, and let go of worry, regret, anger, unforgiveness, and that crazy desire to change everyone else.... you might just find a life more full of joy than you thought possible, regardless of external circumstances.