Change Your Perspective to Change the World

Here’s an updated version of a Live More, Fear Less post from my archives.


Keyhole_and_LadderThere are so many things to worry about in this life: the state of the world with its pollution, wars, natural disasters, famine. There’s human trafficking, drug cartels, economic collapse. Some mothers watch their children waste away through starvation. Some fathers are beaten and killed for their faith or beliefs. Closer to home are the very real problems of putting food on the table, juggling bills, trying to keep a job, and deciding between paying the rent or going to the doctor. And then there are more personal worries like living alone or being lonely, growing old, and being forgotten.

It’s easy to worry, and it’s something I’m very good at because I’ve had lots of practice. When I feel myself slipping into that place where I need to print business cards that say “Cate Macabe, Professional Worrier,” I stop and try to put things in perspective.

If I’m living in a car or a bombed-out building, do I worry about how fat I look in my jeans? While I’m sitting by my child’s hospital bed, do I care that my gray roots are showing? What is the fear of growing old compared to the fear of having nothing to feed my children? How does the fear of crowds or heights or giving an oral presentation compare to facing the devastation of a hurricane or a flood?

When I received the news that a friend of mine lost her teenage daughter to the hands of a murderer, the first thing I did was cry, and then I wailed. I was devastated for my friend, the heartbreak she felt, the horror of the crime. And I cried out for her daughter. There was so much she didn’t get to do. She was too young to be taken from this life. The next thing I did was look at my own teenage daughter and my life with her. Did all my rules, and nagging, and too-high expectations create the relationship I wanted? Did I want to push her away or look at each day with her as a gift to cherish? I decided, on the day I got my friend’s tragic news, what was truly important and began making choices accordingly.

Don’t wait for a disaster to give you a new perspective. Decide now what is most important and take practical steps to follow through.

If living longer and enjoying your family as you age is what you worry about – walk a little everyday, make better food choices, exercise your mind. Is getting a job or holding on to one a concern? Update your skills, work for a temporary agency, volunteer in your field of interest.

Doing something for someone else can shift our focus and also change how we look at our own lives. Visit an elderly neighbor, hold the hand of someone who’s grieving, watch a busy Mom’s kids to give her some alone time, send thank-you cards and letters to soldiers serving overseas (especially in combat zones).

Today, this minute, we can’t help a starving child or love an orphan on the other side of the world, but we can contribute money or time to organizations that can. And if we have the heart for it, we can foster or adopt and change the life of such a child.

Unless we do something with our worry, it becomes a waste of our time and energy because it’s really only a useless exercise of the mind. Don’t let the worries of life get you down for long. Take one step back if you have to, then two steps forward and keep looking ahead.

What do you do to stop worry from getting out of hand?


Image “Keyhole And Ladder” courtesy of Master isolated images / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Seasons of Joy and Heartache

PeaceDoveThis is the season of joy-to-the-world, Christmas trees, elves and reindeer, snowmen and snow angels, baking and making and sharing, decorating and gift giving. It’s a time to celebrate the greatest gift ever given, demonstrated in Nativity scenes around the world – the birth of Jesus.

It’s also a time that many people suffer through. To see so much joy – to be faced with everyone else’s happiness, a reminder of what they may not have – can be truly painful when heartache overshadows everything else.

Emotional distress can destroy our physical, as well as emotional health. We are not meant to live for long in our grief, but to pass through it when the time is right.

In an interview with Jeremy Statton, Alece Ronzino approaches this subject from the viewpoint of someone who has made the journey:

Everyone eventually goes through a season of shattered dreams.

The greatest thing I can pass along to someone who is in that place right now is something a friend said to me, “Don’t bring building supplies to the graveyard.” There will be a season where all you can do is sit in the grief and the heartache. You have to face it and feel it, and not try to shortcut around it. But eventually – and you, or those you trust to speak into your life, will just know when that time is – you have to start taking steps forward.

Give yourself permission to grieve. And then give yourself permission to hope again.

In Ecclesiastes, Solomon wrote that to everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven…a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.

I hope this is a season of joy and peace for you. If not, I hope you will reach out to the One who understands you better than you understand yourself, because He made you. The One who named and numbered the stars. The One who counts every tear you shed, and is always with you.

Wishing you joy in the simple things and hope for better days.

Bullying: You Are the Boss of You

Nobody can make you feel inferior without your permission. ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

 As long as there are people who enjoy being cruel and have a need to dominate and control others, there will be bullies. Unfortunately, that also means there will be those who are the recipients of their physical and/or emotional aggression. Years ago, only two options were usually offered a child suffering from being bullied: fight back or ignore it. Adults tended to think it was a normal part of childhood. Nowadays, awareness of the extreme result of bullying (such as suicide) has caused parents, teachers, and school systems to take a more active role in preventing and dealing with schoolyard bullies through special programs and education.

There is also an abundance of books and movies for kids and young adults that deal with this issue. Books for parents and teachers, such as The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander by Barbara Coloroso give understanding and guidance regarding bullying – with insight into the role that a bystander (active or not) plays in supporting such behavior. In the book, suggestions are given on how to raise a child to have the compassion and strength of character to act on what is right if they find themselves as a bystander “even at great cost to himself.”

Eventually we all grow up and leave school behind, but schoolyard bullies often grow into adult bullies. This kind of behavior is less in-your-face physical and more subtle, but still just as harmful. It can manifest itself in its simplest form in a relationship where one person continually takes advantage of another through manipulation, often using the friendship (and the possible loss of it) as a weapon.

We can try to understand bullies. Most have a need to control because they have little control over their own lives – and those they perceive as weak or different become easy targets. Many are raised by dominating, controlling parents, and bullying can become a natural path. But no amount of understanding can excuse this behavior. Whatever the reasons, a bully chooses to treat people a certain way, just like the rest of us do.

As adults, we have choices that children may not have or may not know they have, or don’t have the strength to make. We can choose not to be bullied, deciding instead to avoid or ignore those kinds of people without harm to our once-fragile childhood hearts. We can end an unhealthy relationship with a controlling partner or friend. The power to change a situation that we’re unhappy with is within each of us.

The trick is remembering that change is as easy as you make it. The trick is remembering that you are the boss of you. ~ A.S. King

But things become more complicated when encountering bullying in the workplace. Our job might depend on getting along with that awful person giving us the stink-eye from the desk across the room. And if it’s your demanding supervisor…that’s an even tougher situation. We still have choices, whether it’s being nice to the person to keep the peace, confronting the person in an assertive but non-aggressive way, or taking the problem through the chain of command. If bullying turns into outright harassment, most workplaces have rules in place to deal with it. In any case, moving on might just save your physical and mental health.

But no matter what, keeping in mind where the fault lies is key. You do not deserve to be treated with scorn or disrespect. No one else is the boss of you, but you.

October is National Bullying Prevention month. What do you think is the best way to handle or prevent bullying?

Dealing with Fear: A Logical Approach

Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows; it empties today of its strength. ~ Corrie ten Boom

Worry is a first cousin to fear – a wasteful, sneaky, whisper-in-your-ear kind of cousin. In my own quest to be less fearful, I’ve found the following strategies to be the most helpful:

Allow Yourself One Big Fear (and/or several small ones). And don’t beat yourself up over it. Fear can be normal and helpful (see my post on survival instinct). Everyone is afraid of something, even big, burly manly men – they just hide it better. I say, if you can carry on your daily life, moving forward more than you move backward, then your fear is not a problem.

Rehearse/Prepare. I don’t suggest we think about our fear or worry continuously – that might already be part of the problem. But consider what you’re really worried or fearful about. Afraid to talk to someone in person or on the phone? Write out what to say ahead of time. Are you actually afraid of the unknown in a situation rather than the situation itself? Before going on a job interview: research the job, the company, and ask yourself/answer possible interview questions.

Share. Don’t go it alone. If you’re worried about raising your kids, find mothers in your neighborhood, at church, at your child’s school to hang out with or talk to. Whatever the situation, talking to someone can help work through our fears. And chances are, someone is going through the same kind of thing or has already made it through the other side.

Pray. Some people don’t consider prayer logical. But belief in Someone greater than yourself, who cares for you and has the power to do anything, is a necessity of life these days. Prayer can chase away worry and bring peace to a troubled soul.  

Get Involved. Helping others, helps yourself. It takes the energy that your worry wastes and channels it toward someone or something that needs it more. There are people all around us that need help, many of them in worse places than we are.

Be Grateful. It’s been said that the fastest escape from worry is appreciation. Imagine how good we could feel if we spent our time appreciating what we have in life instead of wasting it on worry. For ideas on making gratitude a habit, go to my post Have a Grateful Day.

Act. Doing something is really what this list is about. Anything that causes worry should be acted on, not just thought about. Even the smallest action can alleviate fear. Make a list, make a plan, make a phone call. Go on the internet and do research.

Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit at home and think about it. Go out and get busy. ~ Dale Carnegie

These are just a few suggestions, but if worry or fear has taken over your life to the point that you can’t leave the house or if you’re overwhelmed/depressed and are having trouble carrying on, please talk to someone – seek out a listening ear at your church or with a health care professional. Sometimes we do need help outside ourselves, and that’s okay. We weren’t meant to go through life alone.

How do you deal with worry?

Live More, Fear Less: Perspective

There are so many things to worry about in this life: the state of the world with its pollution, wars, natural disasters, famine. There’s human trafficking, drug cartels, economic collapse. Some mothers watch their children waste away through starvation. Some fathers are beaten and killed for their faith or beliefs. Closer to home are the very real problems of putting food on the table, juggling bills, trying to keep a job, and deciding between paying the rent or going to the doctor. And then there are more personal worries like living alone or being lonely, growing old, and being forgotten.

It’s easy to worry, and it’s something I’m very good at when I practice. When I feel myself slipping into that place where I need to print business cards that read “Cate Macabe, Professional Worrier,” I stop and try to put things in perspective.

If I’m living in a car or a bombed-out building, do I worry about how fat I look in my jeans? While I’m sitting by my child’s hospital bed, do I care that my roots are showing? What is the fear of growing old compared to the fear of having nothing to feed my children? How does the fear of crowds or heights or giving an oral presentation compare to facing the devastation of a hurricane or a flood?

When I got the news that a friend of mine lost her only daughter to the hands of a murderer, the first thing I did was cry, and then I wailed. I was devastated for my friend, the heartbreak she felt, the horror of the crime. And I cried out for her daughter. There was so much she didn’t get to do. She was too young to be taken from this life. The next thing I did was look at my own teenage daughter and my life with her. Did all my rules, and nagging, and too-high expectations create the relationship I wanted? Did I want to push her away or look at each day with her as a gift to cherish? I decided, on the day I got my friend’s awful news, what was truly important and began making choices accordingly.

Don’t wait for a disaster to give you a new perspective. Decide now what is most important and take practical steps to follow through.

If living longer and enjoying your family as you age is what you worry about – walk a little everyday, make better food choices, exercise your mind. Is getting a job or holding on to one a concern? Update your skills, work for a temporary agency, volunteer in your field of interest.

Doing something for someone else can shift our focus and also change how we look at our own lives. Visit an elderly neighbor, hold the hand of someone’s who’s grieving, watch a busy Mom’s kids to give her some alone time, send thank-you cards and letters to soldiers serving overseas (especially in combat zones).

Today, this minute, we can’t help a starving child or love an orphan on the other side of the world, but we can contribute money or time to organizations that can. And if we have the heart for it, we can foster or adopt and change the life of such a child.

Unless we do something with our worry, it becomes a waste of our time and energy because it’s really only a useless exercise of the mind. Don’t let the worries of life get you down for long. Take one step back if you have to, then two steps forward and keep looking ahead.

What do you do to stop worry from getting out of hand?