#1: Tell yourself “It doesn’t matter.”
“It doesn’t matter” is something my 16-year-old son, Aaron, has said to me, when I:
- had brightly colored food stuck in my front teeth,
- was running a few minutes late,
- couldn’t decide what to wear,
- forgot to tell somebody something,
- thought I looked terrible,
- didn’t get enough sleep,
- said “the wrong thing,”
- couldn’t find something,
- made a mistake, or
- otherwise thought I had screwed something up.
As with anything, “it doesn’t matter” can be overdone. That is, “it doesn’t matter” — said too much and too often — could be a sign of
- anger, or
… but I personally find that phrase an effective anxiety-reducer. This works especially well if I imagine my son’s voice saying it, in my head.
#2: Freak yourself out by misplacing or losing something, so you can feel relief when the situation is resolved.
In four days, Aaron and I are flying to Edinburgh, Scotland. Regular readers of this blog might remember that I tend to experience some anxiety before traveling.
Yesterday, minutes before Aaron’s final appearance in a local production of “Assassins,” I realized that
something I absolutely needed for the trip
was gone. My only credit card with an international chip was missing from my wallet.
My first thoughts were
Arrrgh! You put that friggin’ credit card in your pocket last evening, when you were taking that nice walk with Michael, after Aaron’s show yesterday.
My second thoughts were
What is the matter with you? You KNOW that when you do that, you lose track of the card and then you catastrophize and think the worst when you can’t find it. WHY DO YOU DO THIS TO YOURSELF? Isn’t your life INTERESTING ENOUGH, without adding drama like this, especially during stressful times?
My third thought was
It doesn’t matter. I will find the credit card at home. Or, if I can’t, there is time to order a new one, before we leave for Scotland.
As a result, I was able to let go of enough anxiety to focus on my son on stage, acting and singing as John Wilkes Booth, in a musical written by one of my heroes, Stephen Sondheim.
Then, after the show was over, I went home and found my credit card, within moments.
#3: Set a priority or two, and stick to it.
When many things seem simultaneously important, I can get overwhelmed and anxious. To cope with this, it helps to have a short list of non-negotiable priorities.
For example, when I write a blog post, it’s very important to me to
- give credit to others and
- be respectful of personal boundaries, regarding somebody else being included in a post.
- I want to tell you that all three photographs shown in this post, so far, were taken by Kathy Tarantola, professional photographer, on the 8/8/14 opening night performance of the Arlington Children’s Theater production of Stephen Sondheim’s “Assassins,” and
- my son (with the dyed-brown hair and moustache) approved all three of those photos for use in my blog.
I’m realizing, now, that I haven’t cleared the use of these photos with the other excellent actors appearing in them. It helps me to remember, right now, that if they object, I can always fix that later.
#4: Do something, just because you like to.
While it’s not one of my top two priorities, I also like to include photos I have personally taken, in my blog posts.
And I did take some photos of Aaron this weekend, in his triumphant “Assassins” appearances. But I haven’t cleared using them here, with Aaron.
However, I could show you these photos I took, this weekend:
And, finally, because I would like a photo of Aaron in “Assassins” to show up as the featured image of this post, I’m going to end with the fourth photo taken by Kathy Tarantola that Aaron approved:
Thanks to my son, to Kathy Tarantola, to the town of Arlington (and its surrounding environs), to people who do their best dealing with anxiety, to those who dare boldly, to wild childs and butterflies, to any other people or organizations who made this post possible, and to you — of course! — for all that you bring here, today.
© Kathy Tarantola Photography, 2014