This word – perspective – always helps me. I prefer to be an analytical thinker, but I am a woman, so sometimes that is simply not possible. I think you know what I mean. But the first man in my life, my dad, taught me how to employ perspective to fight the negative power of emotions and I still use his tactic.
As a teenager, I remember sitting on the Berber carpeted staircase in our huge living room and crying about . . . well, anything, everything, whatever was on the top of my injustices list at the time. I’m pretty sure it was boy related often. Homework related at times. Work or church related the rest of the occasions. The feelings are utter and complete despair, a certainty that I had no choice but to give up or die.
Sometimes Dad would casually remark that my emotionally out-of-proportion response might signal a negative hormonal interaction. I was always sure that was NOT the case, only to find out a couple of days later that it definitely was. Still, even when I argued that hormones were not the problem, my situation was genuinely DIRE, Dad always offered the same simple response:
“Just don’t take yourself too seriously today.”
And it always worked. It still works. My husband has learned how to employ this one. (Note to husbands and fathers: The phrase should, as often as possible, be used independently of the hormonal connection. Throw the hormone excuse at us when we are hormonal and things will not go well for you. We are trying to overcome this weakness associated with our gender, but I cannot promise our victory here. Play it safe and avoid.)
What does it mean to not take yourself too seriously? A list, shall we?
- Don’t make any life altering decisions. Don’t quit your job, cut your hair, or buy a puppy under these circumstances. Almost always it will be a mistake. And even when it isn’t a mistake, your timing is usually off.
- Don’t cave to the melancholy. Fight it by staying in your routine. Fight it by going above and beyond to be nice to people.
- Don’t ignore the melancholy. Find ways to comfort yourself that don’t harm others. Eat something bad for you. Watch a movie instead of cleaning the bathroom. Take a nap.
- Don’t forget that this will pass. Even if your emotional dip isn’t hormonal, it is almost always temporary. If you can remember that, you will find it easier to climb out of the pit.
What would you add to my “Not Taking Myself Too Seriously Today” List?