Attitude is Everything [Tall Drink of Nerd]
I’m going on vacation this Wednesday. Work has been overwhelming lately, so I’ve been eye-balling my vacation start date like it’s a big ole turkey leg and I’m a hungry cartoon character. Even though I’m excited to turn on my out-of-office and unplug from the world of stress and too many emails, worry sweeps over me about the upcoming days off. What if we get in a car accident while driving through the mountains: what if the ceiling of our apartment caves in while we’re gone: what if the zombie apocalypse occurs when we’re in the middle of Utah? That’s my role in the game of life, I am The Worrier.
This is a title I’m trying to grow out of. Pointless worry brings stomach aches, shooting head pain and useless grumpiness. But I’ve been a worrier my entire life and this is not an easy addiction to kick. In some sense, I feel my worry is a wonderful preventative. I control the universe with my visions of trouble; either I’ll be ready for the worst or pleasantly surprised when all goes smoothly. Yes, I realize this is totally ridiculous, but knowing a superstition is ridiculous and internalizing it are two totally different things.
After years of trying traditional methods of dealing with worry, and all the health problems it incurs, I decided to seek something different. This is where an acupuncturist steps in to fix me.
I’m laying on a table in a wellness clinic. The legs of my standard black leggings are pushed up, over my knees and my socks are off. It’s really cold in here and I can hear the woman in the room next to me YIPEing every few seconds as she gets poked with needles. Normally anxious, my skin is starting to prick up with chill and fear. Then the door opens and a tiny red-headed woman walks in, followed by a stocky older Chinese man. She is training to get her Doctorate in acupuncture and herbal medicine, he is an MD who has been practicing eastern medicine for decades. The doctors start to flip through my chart and shoot questions at me.
“What’s your main complaint?”
ME: “Headaches, anxiety and lady troubles” (I go into detail with them on these, but you really don’t want to know detailed lady troubles. Do you?)
Mostly the big complaint is the big angry knot in my neck from worry. That thing has teeth which gnaw on my nerves, pinch my spine and poke it’s needle fingers into my brain. That knot is so hard, my husband mistook it for my shoulder blade. As the experienced doctor goes through my symptoms and the desired outcome with me, he asks me where most of these problems originate. I keep saying “I have had a lot of stress.” He starts to repeat the same advice.
“Attitude is everything”
This isn’t a revelation to me, but somehow, hearing a doctor say this, gives it heft. More heft than the yogi I saw in a documentary who stated “If you are making dinner, you can make it with anger, or make it with joy. Either way, you’re making dinner. Your attitude defines every experience and ultimately, your life”. Pretty deep dude.
After I had that initial acupuncture appointment, I observed everyone around me with that ‘Attitude is everything’ mantra ringing in my head. From the outside, it’s easy to see who approaches life with a flexible attitude and those who bring anxiety, fear and even rage to every situation. Everything to these folks, including me at times, is a crisis, with firesThe worriers have headaches, ulcers and cranky spells. Worry shortens your life and destroys your health, which seems like just another thing to worry about, unless you admit that you have control, and then let go.
Even the animals at the shelter where I volunteer were perfect examples of how ‘Attitude is everything’. It’s understandable to have fear, anxiety, stress in their situation, but some dogs would give you kisses and a joyful greeting no matter what they had been through. Some cats would curl up in your lap, purr happily and seem secure even though they’d seen abuse and abandonment. That is all attitude.
So I’ve learned something, from acupuncture doctors, from observing people and from hanging out with kitties. I’ve decided to kick those anxieties out, not pack the worries to take with me on vacation. My new mantra is “Enthusiasm, not dread”. This is seriously taking a LOT of mindful effort, but I am letting go of that pokey knot and my role as The Worrier.
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featured image credit: Deborah Leigh (Migraine Chick)