Have you heard of that saying ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff?’ It means don’t get upset or stressed about minor issues. But what if the minor issues are really causing you great upset and stress? Will ignoring it make it any better? I think not…
Sometimes in order to ‘not sweat the small stuff’ you need to take a good look at it before you can let it go.
If you do this consistently, there will come a time where you are no longer ‘sweating the small stuff’, not because it doesn’t matter, but because you are able to quickly and easily determine whether or not it’s something you need to worry about, or feel stressed about and if not, you simply let it go.
It’ll become as automatic as closing your eye when a bug flies towards it.
But how to get to that stage?
My favourite, tried and trusted way is to write it out. Take a notebook or piece of paper and allow yourself 15-20 mins of undisturbed time where you can sit and write freely.
If you like, write a header along the lines of ‘What’s really pissing me off right now’ or ‘What’s the main stress points in my life today?’ and remember we are looking for the small stuff, not the big things!
Just start writing…write them out and as you write think about why it’s stressing you out or pissing you off and write that down too.
Write about the effect they are having on your life and how they make you feel. Allow yourself to go deeply into this and keep asking why, why, why to get to the real root of it all.
Chances are you’ll come to something that will be a contradiction to your values or beliefs and then you start gaining an understanding of what’s going on and why these seemingly insignificant issues are causing you such a headache. And then you can choose actions that reduce or eliminate them form your life, releasing you from feeling the stress, anger, upset and anything else they are triggering.
I did this when I started feeling out of sorts and not quite myself. There was nothing I could put my finger on when someone asked me what the matter was, it was just a general feeling, but one that didn’t feel good. Once I started writing however, a huge raft of things came up and each one was seemingly small and insignificant.
- I was annoyed that my partner didn’t offer to cook more
- A member of my team wasn’t taking on board the advice I had given them
- The hoover didn’t pick up the bits right at the edge of the carpet
- The bathroom light flickered occasionally
- The cat always flicked her food out of the bowl and ate it off the floor
- The news always seemed to be negative and never showed the good side of the world
Really quite silly things but things that stressed me out and made me feel out of sorts, and of course feeling stressed and out of sorts meant that I behaved differently and became more impatient and snappy….this stuff escalates you see?
When I looked at each one I realized some were things that really didn’t matter and I could let them go (after all, does it really matter that the cat flicked her food out of the bowl? Really?) and some had easy solutions….stop watching the news, change the bathroom lightbulb etc, and some were bigger and needed some conversation and boundary setting.
But the biggest thing it did, was to remove the feelings attached to them so I could be objective about them and therefore deal with them and stop them adding to the stress of life.
So yes, sometimes you don’t want to sweat the small stuff but sometimes the small stuff is what’s making you sweat, so take a look at it, deal with and move on.