We women love to stress over things. And when I say "love," I actually mean "hate" — though, with the way we search out stressors, you'd think the pursuit of worry was our lifelong goal.
We stress about our waistlines, our laugh lines, our frown lines. We worry about our kids — their choices, their friends' behavior, their teachers' grading policies, and whether or not they're slowly turning into couch potatoes. We fret over whether the weather will be nice enough for this weekend's birthday party, whether we bought too many presents. We lose sleep over finances, the state of the nation's economy, unemployment rates, and the rising cost of a college education.
Men don't understand this level of worry. In fact, if you tried explaining all this to a man (such as your husband), he would likely be amazed that your brain hasn't already imploded. It would astound him that one person thinks about (and stresses over) so many things at once.
While some amount of worry is natural and useful (it is, after all, what gets us and the kids out the door on time), women tend to worry about too much, and this is unhealthy on a physical and emotional level.
So, here are a few less things for you to worry about — things that, thankfully, are completely out of your control.
As much as we like to personify the weather, it is not actually an entity that can be reasoned with, pleaded with or bargained with. Rain will fall. Wind will blow. The sun will shine. Nothing you can do will change that. So, when you make outdoor plans, focus on what youcan control, hope for the best and make contingency plans — just in case.
Your child's behavior
Model correct behaviors, reward good choices and, of course, hand out consequences, but realize that, in the end, children have been blessed with a moral agency that allows them to turn around and do exactly the opposite of what you ask them to do.
Letting go of the illusion that you can control your children's choices (or the outcomes of those choices) will lessen the unnecessary pressure you put on yourself.
Whether it's your own job search, your spouse's job search or your teenage son's job search, there is, unfortunately, little you can do about which jobs are available, where those jobs are located or how much they pay. Of course, it's fine to aspire to your ideal situation, but make sure that ideal is realistic, and be open-minded about alternate routes.
Focus on what you can control: a well-written resume, good interview skills and your tenacity to keep trying, even when it feels like every job opportunity falls through.
Your mother-in-law (MIL)
Some women have great relationships with their husband's mothers. Some don't. Either way, it's likely your MIL will say something at some point that irritates you, or she'll commit some sin of omission that seems unforgivable, or she'll impart some piece of advice to your husband or children that you wish she'd kept to herself.
At these times, remember that while you can't control your mother-in-law, you can control your reaction to her. Choose the higher road, or follow this sage advice imparted by Thumper's mother: "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."
We might not like to admit it, but we women have as much capacity for road rage as men do. Perhaps it's because the behavior of other drivers isn't just annoying, but it puts our lives and the lives of our precious cargo in danger.
Nothing you can do will affect the driving skills of other drivers, but you can compensate by being an extra attentive driver yourself, avoiding the flaws you deplore so much in others, and remembering that we're all human. Even you commit driving sins that incite others to rage once in a while.
Imagine if you could control your husband. How much easier life would be if he agreed with everything you said! Or ... how boring.
It's the differences of opinion that makes your marriage so enjoyable and interesting. You wouldn't want to be married to yourself, after all.
You can't change your husband, but you can train yourself to look at things from his point of view. Realize that, based on his life experiences, knowledge and training, it's only natural that his opinion differs from yours. Use this perspective the next time you disagree about something, and encourage him to do the same for you.
There are a few aspects of your physical appearance you can control. You can cut and color your hair, apply makeup, buy a new wardrobe and workout five times a week. But that doesn't change who you were born to be. You are a product of genetics and heredity. If you're constantly trying to become someone you aren't, you'll never be content with who you really are.
At some point, we all have to let go of the idea that we can mold ourselves into the perfect women we have in our minds. Perfection doesn't exist. Love yourself for who you are and look for the good in others, too. When you stop comparing and start searching out the beauty in everyone around you, you'll forget why you ever cared about your physical appearance in the first place.