Friday, March 11, 2011

Some Things I Learned From My Stomach

It's been informative to have my stomach out of commission this week. I found out a couple of things I didn't know about myself.

For one thing, I worry more than I thought I did.  I find I pay more attention to body parts when they aren't working as  well as they normally do.  This week I've noticed every time my stomach twinged because I'd thought of something that made me anxious.  Mostly the twinges were caused by thinking of someone I know who has a problem (which is pretty much everybody)  Just the slightest passing thought about someone would make my stomach tense up.

Anything that reminded me of someone could cause a twinge.  For example, a couple of nights ago I heard the distinctive rattle of an aluminum ladder bouncing on the metal rack of a contractor's pickup as he drove down our road at four in the morning.  I heard this sound in my sleep. My stomach twinged because the sound made me think of a contractor I know who is having major issues right now.  In other words, a very common background sound made my stomach twinge with anxiety.

Like everybody else, I hear background sounds and think of friends all day long.  Until I became aware of how my gut felt I didn't know that I was stressing about them.

It's not like I can do anything about other people's problems.  It doesn't help them for me to feel bad for them.  I'm not sure I can stop though.  I want everyone to be happy and for everything to be fine.  That's just not possible.  Accept it!!!!

The other thing I found out is that on a small scale I'm an emotional eater.  It used to be that if I got a little bored or a little sad - low level, in passing, while doing other things and not particularly noticing in the front of my mind - I'd have a couple of nuts or a piece of chocolate or something.  Just a quick little redirection of my thought patterns from fretting to my mouth to the next thing to think about.  Attitude adjusted, I'd move on and continue whatever it was I was doing.

That process is less rewarding when the most you can stomach in a day is a banana or some saltines.  Because I was unable to just casually grab a snack (unable or unwilling) I noticed how often I had the impulse do do so.

Not sure what I'm going to do about that either.

I need to either reduce the discomfort level in my life or learn to bear with it better.  I think the latter is more likely.  Or else I could just accept that I am what I am and I deal with it as best I can.

I think I need to come to terms with the fact that problems aren't merely problems and that fixing things for other people isn't always helpful.  Not that I can fix anything for anyone else, but also I should get out of the habit of wanting to.  We all learn from solving problems.  That's why there's math homework.  Mostly we don't like it but still, it's good for us.  Not to be too self-helpy but confronting problems gives everyone the opportunity to learn and grow.  It gives us character and experience and hopefully compassion for others.  I shouldn't wish to take those opportunities away from someone else just because I think I might be able to deal with them better or because it makes me uncomfortable to watch someone struggle.

I'm just trying to talk myself into thinking this way.  Bad things happen and we have no control.  Wishing it were otherwise doesn't help.  Worrying when there's nothing you can do doesn't help.  It's just so hard to be rational!  It's much easier to think sensibly than to feel sensibly.

1 comment:

PK said...

I'm giving this a "hell yeah." Not that you had salmonella. That bites. The bit about...well, you know what I'm takin' 'bout, Mellis!