I’ve wasted so much time in my life, mainly through worrying about people, situations, and circumstances that I have no control over. Worry is completely useless, yet it’s a habit that I, and many of my fellow Geek Girls, have a hard time breaking. The problem isn’t so much the worry as it is that by worrying I am giving my time and my energy to things in my life that do not deserve it. I’ve recently been introduced the the website Bullish by Craft Lass and though I couldn’t point you to one specific article, perusing through their content is what got me thinking about this.
I’m one of those people that my mother would describe as “having never met a stranger in her life.” As such, I tend to make friends easily, both because I’m gregarious and because I am genuinely interested in other people’s experiences. I’m also a very honest, open person and I often forget that other people aren’t necessarily that way. This has gotten me in lots of trouble, not in the I need bail money sort of way but rather in the crying on my bedroom floor because I can’t seem to learn that people can be horrible sort of way. Yes, the bedroom floor, I don’t know why, but all my best crying happens there.
Last week, Craft Lass posted a piece on GGNO about the advice she could have really used as a young woman, it seems appropriate to follow that up with the lessons I’ve learned while ignoring anything but my own feelings. Feelings are good things, but they can also be incredibly stupid and influence your thought life to an unhealthy extent.
As I said above, I’ve wasted a lot of time worrying. It’s only been in the last few years that my perspective has changed enough (or perhaps, it’s just that I’ve finally gained enough life experience/wisdom) that I have realized that worrying accomplishes nothing but giving what I do not owe to things and people that do not deserve my time. I strongly believe that worrying is a direct result of our tendency (especially as women) to undervalue our worth. We worry because we think that we owe something to people for their attention to us, whether that attention is from a lover, friend, or boss.
Here’s the thing, there are some things that we should do because we’re all human and we all share this planet. We should treat each other fairly, we should thank people when they help us and we should help others when we can, we should strive to leave this fragile blue oasis better for the next generation, and we should care about each other because we’re all the same. But the truth? You don’t owe anybody anything. I want to be careful here to keep this conversation in context, because I’m talking about a very specific thought process in this blog – the way of thinking that leads to worry and stress over things we shouldn’t let consume us. These things can be both trivial and large and differ from person to person. What consumes me, does not necessarily consume you.
When I was a young girl, a relative said something to me once, very offhand and I am sure without the intention of it causing me grief. However, for years that statement plagued me and I would spend hours worrying about it. I paid those words a debt I never owed. How many times have you let the actions or words of others incur a debt that you don’t owe but that you pay back at interest rates even Pay Day Lenders would be embarrassed by?
These days, I’m more cognizant of these wannabe debts in my life, and I do my best to avoid paying them any interest because I don’t owe them. Personally, it’s the refrain of “am I good enough?” The answer, obviously, is yes, but my emotions don’t always like to listen to my brain. As I know, all too intimately, it’s not easy, it’s very hard and I still do give some free rides to thoughts that shouldn’t get them. Recognizing these potentially troubling thoughts is the first step to eliminating them. If you start worrying over a debt you don’t owe, do something else to occupy your time.
Avoiding paying thought debts is probably, at least for me, the single most compelling argument for keeping yourself busy I’ve ever heard. By busy, I don’t mean manufacturing things to do either, I mean busy by getting involved in activities and pursuits that engage you, whether it’s physically, mentally, or spiritually. When you are doing the things that you enjoy or that you find rewarding, you’ll see it’s not all that difficult to avoid paying thought debts you don’t owe, even when you have down time.
In avoiding these wannabe debts, it’s also important that you’re not looking for fulfillment in places that could never provide it. Though the avenues that provide fulfillment varies by the person, I can guarantee you this: Jerry Maguire lied – people do not complete each other. You have to find that inner peace and contentment on your own. If you look to other people for that, you will never be free of feeling indebted to others. Just like you don’t owe anyone anything, no one owes you either. Do not expect others to pay you what they do not owe and do not ask them to.
What do I mean by this? Part of the cycle of worry and stress that our thoughts can cage us in is perpetuated by our own actions that contribute to these thoughts in others. From passive aggressive behavior to playing unfair “games” with loved one, it’s all toxic. One of the best ways to free yourself from unwanted thought debts is to be conscious of not creating them for others. This helps us to develop a clear perspective on what is it that we do and do not owe to each other and ourselves.
I’ve hated nothing more in my life than feeling like my thoughts were holding me captive and that I was suffering under a crushing weight of what I felt like I owed others. Let’s face it, we all feel inadequate at times, honestly, it’s what I struggle with most. Allowing yourself to care about what others think you should be or do only gives those toxic thoughts more power. You are in control of your thoughts, so stop paying and incurring these wannabe thought debts for yourself and others. Break the cycle and breathe free – being satisfied with who you are in and of yourself, that’s what will keep you from paying what you do not owe.
As our post earlier this week mentioned, we have now officially opened our forums. I would love to hear your thoughts about this post, either in the forums as part of an ongoing discussion or in the comments below.
What thought debts are you holding onto?