When a person I care about does something I don’t agree with, I become overly vocal. I force myself opinions on them so they know exactly why they are wrong. Not all the time, only when something feels crucial. Taking on stress from others causes me great anxiety. It’s as if I’m trying to prevent them from making a big mistake.
Why do I do this?
Because I hate when I fail, of course. When plans don’t pan out, I fall off the happy path and down a deep dark hole of anxiety. Then my mind experiments with “what if” scenarios.
- What if I did this differently? Could I have prevented this?
- What could I have done to avoid this?
- Why didn’t this work out?
- Why am I so stupid?
I don’t mean to be the person who inserts themselves in others’ lives when they don’t ask for it. Actually, I loathe when people do it to me. So much so, that those who voice their unwanted opinions are the same people I avoid. Too many talking heads aimed in my direction adds to my stress and anxiety.
I know I deserve to worry about myself as much as I worry about others. Recently a few people in my life have had some major life-changing events that have caused me to spiral into worry. I was losing sleep and could feel them pulling away when I tried to warn them of their mistakes. So, instead of focusing on their problems I decided to turn around and look at my own.
My intentions are good but the outcome is almost never good. I’ve been projecting my own fears and failures onto others. It’s easy to get wrapped up in other people’s drama so I can avoid my own.
Wow, being honest about all this stings a little. I should be smarter, more capable of seeing what my actions do, and find a better way to resolve things before I damage a relationship.
Anxiety’s been a big player in my life since my late teens. In my early forties, I’ve learned to shut it down quicker than in the past. Practice, patience, and never giving up allows me to give anxiety the middle finger. It may not resolve a quickened heartbeat or flush of dizziness, but I look at anxiety in the face and move on once the grip has lessened.
I have enough personal anxiety to last me. There is no reason to take on stress from others. Especially when it has no real effect on my life. Furthermore, I’d like to keep the friends I have. In the future, when I can tell my concern is falling on deaf ears, I’m going to step back. I’m opinionated. People ask me for advice and I’m going to keep giving it to them. Though now I think I’ll look for their hesitation and learn when to shut my mouth.
Melisa Peterson Lewis is a blogger at Fingers To Sky with over two-hundred personal essays, book reviews, gardening, and details on her writing process as she works through her first sci-fi novel. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.