By Kate Collins
If all the diaries I kept for many years of my life were made into a movie, the title would be “DIARY OF A MAD WOMAN.” (My definition of mad would mean angry, not crazy. However, don’t ask my siblings.)
I started writing them a few years after I landed my teaching job as a way to vent my frustrations with a succession of principals who were either clueless or bored and ready to retire. This was in lieu of venting to my first husband, who neither truly listened to my complaints nor offered any helpful suggestions on how to cope. “Just quit then,” was the extent of his counsel.
After a few years, the frustrations of teaching became the frustrations of being unable to conceive, and then the frustrations of trying to raise my children with no help from a husband who still didn’t listen or even participate in our lives.
The diaries ended when the marriage ended. Fortunately, I no longer needed that outlet because I became an author, found the greatest love of my life, and saw my children grow into outstanding young adults.
I still have a small suitcase filled with those tiny journals. One day my kids might like to go back and see a log of their daily accomplishments and funny, endearing moments, which were also recorded. But what is more important for them to see is that nearly all of the worries and frustrations that I poured onto those pages never actually materialized – and trust me, there were many, from health issues to family crises, to career woes.
The lesson to take away is that we worry needlessly 95% of the time. And of the 5% remaining, 3% are beyond our control anyway, so why worry about them?
That leaves 2%. So, in effect, only 2 out of every 100 things churning inside your beleaguered mind and tense tummy are actually worth your concern. But instead of fretting to anyone who will listen, do something. Taking action makes you feel powerful instead of powerless.
After two years of trying to conceive, and being told by a small-minded gynecologist that I just wasn’t meant to get pregnant, I was devastated. I felt totally powerless. So I read everything I could get my hands on, talked to women who’d had problems but had successfully gotten pregnant, got doctor recommendations, and studied how to make my body as healthy and fertile as possible. If that hadn’t worked, I would have adopted. In effect, I took back my power.
My new way of coping with an issue that in the past would have caused sleepless nights is to decide whether it falls into that 95%, 3%, or 2% category. If it’s in the 2%, I will figure out a course of action and do it. Otherwise, what, me worry? I turn my concern over to the Universe, put it out of my mind, and watch for opportunities to arise that will deal with it.
Perfect system? Of course not. My brain is a powerful instrument. It wants to worry. It likes to create drama. That’s what it does best, which is why I can make up stories. But my spirit is stronger. It wants to be happy. It wants to live in the moment and enjoy today, not worry about a future event that probably won’t happen.
Remember, 95% of what we worry about never happens. I have twenty volumes of diaries to prove it.