Friday, 26 August 2016

Let It Go

Some of my friends and family appear to fly through life, light as air, happy as a clam, with seemingly no concerns at all, and I am fascinated by this. Of course they do have worries, they're adults like the rest of us, so what is it that they do to seem so unencumbered by adulthood and all it brings with it?

I've done a little bit of unofficial research to work it out, and the answer seems to be this: they have the power over those cheeky little voices in their head.

Please bear with me on this one. I've mentioned this (slightly nervously at first) to a few people, and they have all agreed that they also have voices in their own heads that speak up in quite similar ways to mine, and that it's those voices that are quite often holding them back.

See if you recognise any of them...

1) The Voice of Cringes Past

This little voice can make an appearance at any moment, and will often pop up in my life when I'm either having a quiet moment- like driving alone or exercising- or when I'm nervous or lacking confidence.

It normally starts 'hey, remember when you...?' and goes on to list unbearably cringeworthy things that you said or did, spanning as widely as something you regret from when you were seven years old all the way up to something as recently as five minutes ago.

Ughhh if only you could undo those things. If only you could replay them so many times that you could become desensitised to them and stop wanting to curl up in a corner eating peanut butter cups and avoiding human beings for the rest of time.

You can't.

But it might reassure you to know that only the other day somebody told me that she regularly replays something she once said to me and every time convinces herself that she can never face me again. HONESTLY it's something that I didn't think anything of at the time and that hasn't crossed my mind again since. And I'm not the most easygoing person. So maybe most people have forgotten about the things I still tear myself apart about. And maybe nobody even thought anything of them at the time.

It may also reassure you to know that when I was tentatively broaching the subject of The Voice of Cringes Past with one of the most confident, outgoing people I know last week, his reaction was 'I thought that was just me! I do that all the time. Sometimes it'll be things I said years ago and it'll randomly pop into my head and make me think why did I say that?'

So it's not just us. It's everyone.

Well, almost everyone.

2) The Voice of Shocking and Unnecessary Mean Thoughts

This one may be more difficult to admit to. But it's there.

It actually doesn't make an appearance very often at all, but every now and then it does and it's brutal. 

A few weeks ago I popped into the Post Office to pick up a package. The lady who served me was a dream. She smiled as I walked in, was polite when she asked me for my ID, and efficient when she collected my package for me from what I call backstage. And yet as she asked me to sign the form to confirm that I had received my package, The Voice of Shocking and Unnecessary Mean Thoughts made an appearance.

Gosh, she's got surprisingly fat fingers. 

It said, totally unnecessarily and really nastily. Where did that come from? I am a kind, and thoughtful, and positive person.

Sometimes, it even comes dangerously close to the surface, and I find myself hugely thankful that it didn't quite come out of my mouth. Someone was once saying to me that they thought they were an excellent communicator, and the evil voice popped up inside my head: 'do you really?' with a raised eyebrow. I honestly had to take a moment to realise that it hadn't come out of my mouth. Thank goodness.

3) The Voice of Self Doubt

I heard recently that an overwhelming percentage of people, and in particular, women, feel that they are 'pretending' at their job and just waiting to be caught out as not really being capable of doing what they're paid for.

You are not alone if you relate to this.

4) The Voice of World Issues

As I'm sure you're aware by now, I'm a worrier. Along with being a worrier, I'm passionate, opinionated, and empathetic. A potentially unhealthy combination, in that it means I get unreasonably angry about things happening elsewhere in the world, something that my boyfriend does not understand at all.

Whilst the voice in my head is riling me up and leaving me frustrated at the state of the world and the fact that there's very little I can do about it, Dale is calm and serene as always.

"But you  being angry about something that someone posted on Facebook in Japan isn't going to change that they did post it and that it's caused what it's caused. It's nothing to do with you. Let it go."

He's right, of course.

I voiced this to a few people who told me that I should never change. It's anger that sparks action. If you just let it go then you could argue that you're a part of the problem. It shows you're human. It shows that you care.

But the more I think about it, and the more I consider Dale's words every time I get angry, the more I think it might be better for my mental health to follow his advice.

What I don't think I will ever be able to change is being upset about the world. Anger I can work on, but empathy is far harder to tackle and therefore so is sadness.

I try my best. I try to recycle, to eat and shop in a moral way, to donate to charity.

 But it doesn't matter how much you do, there's always something more you could be doing. And that bothers me far more than it should.

Do your best, then let it go. That appears to be the advice from the happy and the wise. Easier said than done, I know.

5) The Voice of the Future

Will I have enough money? What jobs will I do? Should I have more qualifications at my age? Will we buy a house one day? How many children will we have? What will we name them? What if all the good names are gone by the time I get to have-a-baby age?

Just a few of the totally unreasonable and totally unnecessary questions to pop into my head when The Voice of the Future is on the loose. We have so much to be happy about today. Why worry?

6) The Unstoppable Voice

It doesn't matter who you are, where you're from, or how you've come into my life. It doesn't matter if you're a colleague, a friend of a friend, my best friend, a man on the tube, the lady serving me in Sainsbury's, or a clearly psycho total stranger who has happened to get your paws onto my generally friends-and-family-only blog. I have a pathological need for you to like me. And that is exhausting. 

This voice is the loudest and the most persistent, and it drives me to insanity sometimes.

Earlier this year I saw possibly the happiest person I know. She also happens to be the most kind hearted and the warmest person I know. And I was so surprised at her reaction when I was worried that her friend- a person I had only met that day and have no reason to ever meet again- seemed a bit annoyed at both of us.

For some reason I had imagined that she would be the same as me- pulling her hair out about it and bending over backwards to apologise. But she wasn't.

"Whenever my Dad's mad, my mom always says he'll get happy in the same pants he's mad in. It's the same. She'll be okay again in five minutes." (Please note she's American. She means mum and trousers.)

I won't bore you with the details of what this girl was a bit annoyed about but as my friend explained why she didn't feel the need to fix the situation even I could completely see that she was right. Her friend wasn't angry about anything that actually mattered and she'd be over it in five minutes and never think about it again.

I cannot emphasise enough how energetic, kind, and thoughtful this friend is. Perhaps it's because she isn't weighed down worrying about the nonsense that I worry about.

I also recently read something on the internet posted by one of my ultimate heroes, health and fitness Guru Chalene Johnson.

Somebody had commented on her status "you annoy me. #unfollow."

That would have resulted in me gulping back the tears and my quivering voice insisting that I know it doesn't matter but then needing a few minutes to blow my nose.

Chalene drew attention to it. And not to make a fool of the writer of the comment, and not to shame her as a 'hater', but to demonstrate to people that it's okay if everyone doesn't like you. I won't write exactly what she said (mainly because I'm not sure about copyright), but basically her message was this: not everyone is going to like you. And that's okay. If you find somebody annoying/ boring/ upsetting in any way then try your best to remove them from your life to make room for all the wonderful, magical, fascinating people that are out there. And let the people that find you annoying (because there will be people that find you annoying) leave your life, to make room for the people who find you wonderful, magical, and fascinating. And just be thankful that your life is only full of these great people.

My happiest friends are also the healthiest, most beautiful, most energetic, and kind, and  I truly believe that if I could keep the energy that I put into worrying, and could let go of those totally unnecessary things that pull me down, I would be lighter, and as a result be as happy, musical, and energetic as the happiest people I know.

Now just to be clear I am a happy person. I am happy every single day, am positive, and grateful, and smile a lot. But I know that if I could just Let Things Go I could be lighter and even happier. And so could you.

So this is me promising you, lovely readers, that I will continue to do my best at everything, but then I will Let It Go. And so should you.

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