I love my chiropractor. Doctor W is a super-nice guy who knows what he’s doing. I like the vanilla jokes he cracks and he just generally has a very easy-going type of vibe. I think we appreciate each other and the fact that we like to think about different sorts of things: holistic healing, what we’re doing to the environment, and even how to handle stress.
I try not to dump my stress issues on the people around me (unless they’re close friends so that we can reciprocate!) yet Dr. W always seems to know when I’m not having a great day. I wear my heart on my sleeve and I’m not a very good actress so what I’m feeling shows on my face like a lit up billboard sign. At this particular visit, I remember feeling very anxious about leaving a business venture. I had spent nearly a year under the wing of a kind woman who was beyond generous in her efforts to help me get started in the business. The problem was, the business wasn’t going anywhere and I was losing money every month. I knew in my heart it was time to exit but I felt awful about it…I knew it would hurt my generous friend and my gut would turn every time I thought about talking to her about leaving the business.
When Dr. W saw my face and general demeanor, he took the time to ask me what was going on. Without going into detail, I let him know that I was stressed about some things that I thought I needed to handle. The advice he gave me then is one of those profound moments I’ll never forget. He took out a piece of paper, drew it into thirds, and labeled the headings as follows:
He told me to make a list of what was distressing me. So I did. I listed about ten things that I felt were causing me to lose sleep. I had a couple in the “total” control section–these were the items that I could absolutely change at will. I had a few more items in the “some control” section–these were the stressors that I could change somewhat, but did not have absolute power over. Finally, the “no control” section had the least amount of items but were causing me the most stress, the greatest being my friend’s reaction to me leaving our business. I remember writing the words:” ______’s reaction to my announcement about leaving.” I realized in that moment that I had absolutely zero control over my friend’s reaction and somehow, that lightened the burden on my heart and gave me the courage I needed to approach her. I never did hear from her again. I had to put that in my “no control” column, too.
The bottom line is that we can “put our lives into thirds”…we can determine what we can absolutely control, what we can exert some control over, and what we cannot control at all. It is up to us to determine how we will handle each third. The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, pull out a sheet of paper, draw it into thirds…. 😉
CJ Heath is a mama, wife, and laborer. She is often under a lot of stress, but trying to change that by putting her life into thirds.