by Lisa Frederiksen
Hum…, “Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There?” That was my reaction when I first read this. It’s a saying on one of those placards you can buy (not attributed to anyone) that I now have hanging on a doorknob in my hallway.
For a person who has spent years loving or living with someone who drinks too much, this is a foreign concept. We are always doing something — generally for someone else — as we try to control the drinking, and when that fails, try to control situations or others in our lives because that gives us a sense of being in control. Generally, this constant effort is triggered by fear, by “what if___?” “what if ____” “what if ?”
And for me, to keep the “what if’s ___” at bay, or at least in control, I always did something. It could be dusting, cleaning the frig, running errands, looking up summer jobs for my daughter on craigslist, look for apartments for a friend of mine…just something. And, all of it seemed very important to be doing.
But now I have a different approach when I get a major case of the “what if’s.” I just sit there. Sometimes I rage or cry or go numb or feel anxious or feel lonely, but I try to just sit there – at least for a few minutes until I get a better sense of what has me riled up. Am I tired, did someone say something that hurt my feelings, did I do something that I’m afraid hurt someone else’s feelings, am I worried about getting more consulting jobs…. Just sitting there gives me some time to figure out what’s really bothering me instead of taking action (any action) so that I don’t have to feel my feelings (and then I go clean the frig ). No seriously, sometimes it’s really important to give ourselves “permission” to feel our feelings. Then, we can sort through the feelings and emotions and instead of reacting from the Limbic System, move our thought processes to the Cerebral Cortex. From there, we can think straight and respond accordingly. [Remember: Reactions are behaviors without thinking -- they originate in the "emotions" parts of our brain - the Limbic System. Responses are behaviors preceded by thinking -- they originate in the "thinking" part of our brain - the Cerebral Cortex.]
The following is an excerpt from Melody Beattie’s The Language of Letting Go. A friend of mine shares these kinds of slogans via email with a group of us daily. When I read it, it prompted me to want to write this post. After you read it, take a moment to let it soak in. Then, the next time you feel anxious or out of control, “Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There.”
Our minds get clouded, confused. We aren’t certain what our next step should be, what it will look like, what direction we are headed.
This is the time to stop, ask for guidance, and rest. That is the time to let go of fear. Wait. Feel the confusion and chaos, and then let it go. The path will show itself. The next step shall be revealed. We don’t have to know now. We will know in time. Trust that. Let go and trust.