Much Ado About Everything
Have you ever noticed how people who are stressed and low of mood often feel that everyone is against them; they may see their neighbours as selfish and unfriendly, their family as uncaring and disinterested, they complain that their colleagues are unhelpful and overly-ambitious, friends may be seen as too busy and unsupportive, they even speculate that strangers look at them in a judgemental, dismissive way.
If these feelings persist it may be helpful for them to book a check-up at their family doctor’s or see a therapist, as this mindset could be symptomatic of depression, which can be helped by medication and counselling. But many of us have some experience of feeling helpless, hopeless or unlovable at times, especially if we’ve been through a tough time with rejection or hurt.
What can we do when everything seems negative, when we make much ado about everything and can’t see any positives in life. When we feel that everything and everyone is difficult, unpleasant and unkind towards us, how can we help the situation improve?
Reflect on any possible triggers that may be exacerbating your downbeat approach to life. Question if there’s something in your past that’s predisposed you to expect the worst. If you’re experiencing a familiar, ‘here I go again’ pattern check to see if this has been triggered in some way. Are you okay with this happening, or would you prefer a different, more appropriate response?
Self-protection can assume many forms, one of which is an ‘if I expect the worst, I’ll never be disappointed or caught unawares’ approach. This might be all well and good, but it’s not a happy or fulfilling way to make decisions or conduct relationships and new opportunities. When we appreciate that much communication is done non-verbally, that what we anticipate and focus on is where we automatically channel our energy, we gain a better understanding of how we shape our lives and our future happiness.
Have you been through a tough time of late, working long hours, with too many demands on your energy and emotional reserves? Sometimes learning to say, ‘no’ and take a little time away, even to go for a country walk or enjoy some quality me time, can make the world of difference, help you to reconnect with yourself and feel more in control again.
It can become habit to see the world solely through our own eyes, and forget that not everything is about us. Other people may see the world differently. They have their own lives, with issues, concerns and distractions to preoccupy them. They may have been completely unaware as to how their behaviour affects us, because their focus is on their own issues. They have their own families, finances, career prospects and health situations to contend with.
Perspective is important. Check if you’re magnifying something into far more significance than it warrants. Have you got the whole story or are you jumping to conclusions because you’re feeling a little vulnerable? I remember a friend being distressed that she’d not been invited to a ladies lunch, but further investigation revealed that the event was for working mothers and, as she didn’t have children, the organisers didn’t think she’d be interested in attending.
When we’re stressed lots of little things, the smallest slights, comments or facial expressions can be quickly honed in on, taking on a whole new level of relevance, with much being read into every sigh, smile, or glance. We can become super-vigilant as our stress responses go into overdrive.
Stress can affect us physically, mentally and emotionally. We’re all familiar with the mind-body connection, so apparent when we use phrases like ‘it’s doing my head in’, ‘I’m sick to my stomach’, ‘it’s such a pain in the neck’, ‘I’m choked/heart-broken’. We often internalise mental and emotional stress into our bodies. So, if we’re experiencing more headaches, a flare-up of an old skin condition or our IBS, are struggling with worsening insomnia and poor concentration consider if these symptoms could be signs of overwhelm and stress.
At these times we may well become increasingly concerned and preoccupied with our health, often vaguely aware that we’re hi-jacking ourselves. Help yourself cope better by starting to step away from those feelings and any negative self-talk. Managing triggers more effectively is important, as you teach yourself to recognise and intercept the warning signs of overwhelm before they become too intense. Detach from being too personally invested and ask yourself if the things you’re bothered about today will really matter in a week or a month’s time.
It’s important to change our focus away from being too much about ‘me’ and ‘my’ sensitivity. Explore a different perspective, on how what’s happening might be affecting any others involved. Consider what’s going on in their lives; everyone has their own story, their personal situation and associated stress.
When you reflect on what’s going on with them, their perspective and interests, it helps you become more empathic and able to see the bigger picture. Life then becomes a more inclusive experience, more grounded and fulfilling on a daily basis, with less inclination to make much ado about anything!
Susan Leigh, Counsellor & Hypnotherapist lifestyletherapy.net