Are there things in your life that you find frustrating? Do you ask yourself, “How does this keep happening to me?!” Or, “Why do I keep ending up in these situations?” Well, my dear reader, it is likely you are in possession of a rock!
One day my son came home from school and was limping.
Me: “Did you hurt your foot?”
Him: “No, ma’am.”
Me: “Well, why are you limping.”
Him: “Oh, there is a rock in my shoe.”
Me: “Doesn’t that hurt?”
Him: “Yes, ma’am.”
Me: “Well, why haven’t you taken it out?”
Him: “I was having too much fun playing and I didn’t want to have to stop.”
I thought to myself, “Oh wow, he would rather limp than stop and fix the problem.” As you can imagine, we had some long discussions about that!
Part of my job as a therapist is to help people “take the rock out of their shoe” so to speak. I’m not sure where this saying originated, but I love it. There are some people who clearly have a rock in their shoe. And instead of stopping, untying and removing their shoe and taking the rock out, they choose to just limp.
“Limpers” tend to have a difficult time making decisions – because that would involve making changes. Limpers hate change. They will gripe about their current situation, and make sure everyone knows how miserable they are. However, this griping in no way indicates they are willing to change the situation.
“Limpers” are also “yes, but” people. I always know I have a Limper on my hands when any suggestion I make is met with a reason it won’t work. And when I say, “but what you’re doing now isn’t working either – why not try something new so at least you are banging your head on a different wall,” they just sadly shake their head at me as if to say, “Poor Keri, you just don’t understand. This is an impossible situation, and it is my cross to bear. Just let me be miserable, please.”
Here is the great thing about rocks – they are removeable. There are some things in our lives we can’t control and have no choice about. The rocks are those things we can control and do something about. They are the little things that make our lives more difficult than they need to be.
I would like to suggest that for the next month, you examine your life for rocks – the things that seem to stand in your way of you being able to live your life as stress-free as possible. Here are some common rocks:
Disorganization – So much time is wasted when things are unorganized. When you have to spend time looking for items, you are not getting other things done. When your day is unorganized, frustration and lack of accomplishment are not far behind. It’s time to organize – your workspace, your home, your day. Everything should have a place, and you need to put things back in their place every time. Your day should have a schedule – of course, emergencies will crop up, but the schedule will at least keep you on track a little better. Organization is not some mysterious gift given to a few – it’s a skill. Learn it.
Procrastination – Take a look at what tasks seem to increase your stress because you put them off. Are you frantically running out the door with the garbage cans on garbage day? Make a commitment to take the trash out the night before. Do you seem to be late (or almost late) for appointments? Figure out a way to get out the door sooner – get up earlier, decide what time you will leave (no matter what you are in the middle of), shift some of your morning tasks to the night before. Develop a timeline for projects with a breakdown of each step so you are not pulling all- nighters.
Accepting – Remember the Serenity Prayer? We want to accept the things we can’t change, change the things we can, and have the wisdom to know the difference. Begin to question some of the things you are doing – is it necessary? Could there be a better way? Is there a tool that would make it easier? Try to look at things with “fresh eyes,” and stop doing them just because that’s the way you’ve always done them. Would you go back to a typewriter from a word processor? How about hand washing clothes instead of using a washing machine? Of course not – some wonderful people refused to accept their situation at the time and developed better ways of doing things. You need to do the same.
So, the next time you’re limping along in a relationship, or at a job, or with parenting your child, I hope you’ll begin to ask yourself what you could do differently to make the situation better. Then stop, take off your shoe, and remove that rock!