I’m always told not to sweat the small stuff. For the most part, this statement holds true. But what if the sweating the small stuff is a way to practice handling the bigger stuff?
Lately, I’ve learned a very valuable lesson in my personal life. Through the help of therapy, I’ve been able to use ‘the small stuff’ to practice my change in attitude and behaviour within myself.
An example would be whenever my mother would come over and criticize something she sees in our house. Yes, mothers tend to do this and yes, it sounds small. To most people, it probably is small. To me (and others like me), it’s actually quite huge when it’s connected to a history of my upbringing and relationship with my mother.
The first time I realized my mother’s critique wasn’t as devastating to me as it use to be was about 2-3 weeks ago. We had this Easter lily plant in the middle of the coffee table. Completely dead. I think it was dead for at least a week before she pointed this out. And continued being dead for another week or two before my husband finally threw it out.
My mother went on about everything she could surrounding that dying plant. I can’t for the life of me remember what it was that she said – which was a good sign. A year ago, I would have uncontrollably made a slew of mental notes about every single word she said to me. And then days later, weeks even, be tormented by it all. It was just something I became a pro at because it was the only life I knew since I started to walk and talk.
Though I do recall her saying that we used a perfectly good plate to put the plant on. I only remember this because I thought it was funny – it’s an ugly side plate which we’re going to replace soon anyway.
Anyway, point being, I realized for the first time that while her comments still frustrate and annoy me, I was suddenly able to not beat myself up over her negative reactions. It’s always something I understood in concept but never something I was fully able to believe in myself. And when that evening came and went, I explained to Doug that I finally was able to separate myself from her issues. That everything she was saying in direction of me was really issues she had all on her own.
And that I’m fine. I’m okay. I’m not the disappointment she continually tries to remind me that I am (either intentionally or not – most likely she doesn’t even realize she is doing this). Even if she truly believes I’m a disappointment, she’s wrong. I am my own person – flaws and all.
So I’m glad I did sweat the small stuff all these years. I think it was part of my road to practice on in order to face some of the bigger stuff either presently in my life or whatever might be waiting around the corner.
I don’t feel guilty about sweating the small stuff anymore. The small stuff has proven fruitful to me – rather than casually throwing them off to the side with a ‘meh’ attitude, it’s helped me distinguish what I need to do in the grander scheme of things.