“Expect the best, and prepare for the worst.” Ugh. Can I just expect the best, prepare for the best, and deal with The Worst if it chooses to show its smug mug?
I’m a pro at preparing for The Worst, but doing so has never served me.
When I’ve put myself “out there” creatively, then prepared for a blow by continually telling myself that I may be rejected, that I may be told I’m “not good enough,” I never felt any better when the “thanks, but no thanks” came. It still stung, tore up, and full-on flattened my ego.
When I prepared myself for The Worst when my grandfather was diagnosed with lung cancer by steeling myself against the harsh sting of death, it didn’t ease my suffering when he passed. If anything, it prevented me from enjoying the time I had left with him.
When my cousin poured over all the worst-case scenarios during her first pregnancy, doing all she could to prevent them, the preparation didn’t begin to touch the all-consuming grief she drowned in when she moved through the agony of a still-birth at 36 weeks gestation.
All preparing for The Worst has done is … well, fill me with dread for The Worst. Here, I’ll explain in a little more detail why I’m going to wean myself off this crippling proclivity:
1. My “preparation” fills my son with worry.
When I’m stewing over “what-ifs” and fill my space with that energy, my son’s attitude shifts.
He goes from pushing toy cars off the careening cliff of the TV stand, smashing tiny wads of toilet paper into, well, everything, and laughing every time he toots, to needing to sit in my lap and ask, “Awww you okay, mommy?”
“Yes, honey, I’m fine. I’m just worrying about what piece of furniture I’ll throw us next to when the next great California earthquake hits.”
2. I’m more productive when I’m preparing for the best.
I gain so many hours in the day when I’m freed from thoughts of how I’ll handle the rejection if my book proposal is turned down, what I’ll do if that one friend is mad that I forgot to invite her to that park play-date, and how my family will get along if that pain in my lower back is cancer and not just sore muscles from sleeping in a bed with a toddler.
When those thoughts are gone, I can write something earth-shattering (or at least mildly entertaining), read a book to my son in my excellent faux Aussie accent, or bake something that has a minimum of one stick of butter — all productive and awesome.
3. I’ll stop manifesting The Worst.
I’m certain that I’ve often caught the attention of The Worst by staring at it for too long. How could it ignore me when I’m focusing so intently on it? That would just be rude. I’m going to start staring at images of beaches, sleeping babies, chocolate chip cookies, and people hugging to drive The Worst away.
4. I’ll become better at The Best.
I’ve become really good at keeping my schtick together during bad situations but all the time it took to build those skills left me without the ability to navigate back into The Best and enjoy an extended stay there. I’ve become more comfortable whilst “conquering the bad” because that’s what I know and that’s what I’ve trained for.
Instead I want to train for laugh-till-you-pee moments with friends, spontaneous adventures in the woods with my son, and long naps on the beach with my husband … er, I mean long walks on the beach with my husband.
5. If The Worst comes knocking, I’ll have an arsenal of mental stability at my disposal.
Preparing for The Worst is exhausting and makes my mental footing slippery; slippery mental footing makes it harder to climb out of the darkness. I’m over that noise. Instead of slippery and exhausting, I’m going to prepare for The Best, attract more of that “best-ness,” and fill my coffers with enough light to navigate the eventual side trips into the darkness.
Life can be so painful, but at the core of it? It’s just The Best that matters. We don’t need to stick our heads in the sand, pretending bad situations don’t happen; we can choose to limit our time in the head space of The Worst.
Let’s acknowledge the darkness, but choose to stand in the light.
With that said, I’m still raiding the toilet paper, wine, canned goods, and carb aisles at Costco before the Super El Niño hits Southern California.More On