Many people are worried right now: there is so much going on in the world that is frightening, or strange, or surprising, and very few people feel at home or comfortable any longer. Some, who have been looking forward to these changes, are feeling strong and happy now: finally things will be done the way they have wanted them to be done for ages. Others are feeling unsure and anxious: what are all these changes going to mean for me? For my family? For all the things I am used to seeing, used to doing? What will happen?
When some people start feeling worried, they get angry: they get angry at the things or people that are making things different and uncomfortable. Others can get depressed, and think that there is no way forward, no good way to change any of the bad things they see are happening. And others worry. Worrying can feel like caring; worrying can feel like acting, like trying to solve something. Because surely, if you worry about someone you care for them, right? And if you worry about something, you’re letting everyone know that this is something that has to be changed, right? Actually, worry is like very cold water: it can actually slow you down, and make it harder to do things. If you stay in such cold water too long, you become numb and you cannot move well anymore because worry actually freezes your energy and pulls it away from where you might need it to change things.
What you do instead of worry is to first understand yourself. What do you really know? What to you really feel, do you really believe? What can you do about what is worrying you? You may think there is nothing, but really there is always something. Make yourself understand why you are worried, and then break it down into small things, small things you can change. And that will help.
Sometimes, when you work with groups of people, you have to agree to work together, and that can be hard. There are bossy people, people that don’t want to be in the group, or maybe they only want to stay in the group of their friends that they are in already. It’s hard to get work done when so many want such different things! And if someone wants to boss the group, take it over and make them do what he wants, things can get impossible. What to do? You have to work together to finish the project, but you cannot do anything when everyone is fighting about it.
First of all, you need to find ways to agree on something, and sometimes that takes quick thinking. Sometimes, men who might argue a lot make peace with each other by saying something very different than the project at hand, such as, “Hey, wasn’t the Super Bowl something this year?” Or maybe, “Man, that last snowstorm about buried me!” And then, if this person is very smart with his emotions, he will ask, “What did you think of it?” and then listen. He will not correct the other person, or say his house was deeper under the snow than anyone else’s: he will instead to everything to find out where he and the other person can agree on something. When he and the other person agree on something, then others feel they can agree too.
But there are times when what you are working on matters so much, and everyone is so different, that you have to find something larger than who won the Super Bowl. Can you all agree that this project in front of you is difficult? Can you all agree that no one really wants to be here, that everyone would rather be at home doing something fun? Or can you all agree that, if this project doesn’t work, that things would be harder? Look for the widest thing you can think of: look for the place where you can all agree. That starts the work much more easily.
There is an old story about someone who was walking down the road, and someone had stolen his shoes. He was feeling quite sorry for himself: the road was hot and full of stones, and there were animal droppings everywhere. So, he was complaining and complaining, until he saw a man that had no feet. Perhaps the man had been in an accident long ago, but this was so long ago that there were no such things as wheelchairs, and this man had to push himself along in a low, wheeled cart, and ask strangers to help him. It was very sad!
The man with no shoes was ashamed of himself, and realize he had just been feeling sorry for himself, I would like to say that the man with no shoes helped the man with no feet, but the story I learned didn’t say anything about that. It’s true that he might have: he understood what it meant to have a hard time walking, if only a little bit in comparison.
But this is something to always keep in mind: If you are feeling sorry for yourself, where everything seems to be going “wrong,” which means not going your way, then you can think about people who have it so much worse than you do. There are usually so many people in the world that have things much harder than you do that if you thought about them, you would know you should not complain. You might get a little bit angry: when you are angry and pay attention, maybe you can fine a way to fix your own problem, and the maybe someone else’s problem too. But feeling sorry for yourself sometimes means that you will have to see the man without any feet.