The Lighter Side of Stress
Jo-Anne Cutler


We feel it, we say it, we live it, we affirm it and we teach it. . . life is stressful, right?

We’re so busy running on life’s treadmill, worried about our kids, work, finances, world issues, our health and relationships. Rushing in the morning to work to meetings and more meetings to home, tag-teaming or single handedly carting our kids off to lessons, arenas and rehearsals, barely catching our breath, living forever under the loud tick-tock of not enough time. . . . Hurry Hurry. . . we’re going to be late! being an all too familiar phrase that comes out of our mouths, and then, back home for the routine of homework, showers, and lunches and we flop into bed still wearing our stress suit which makes it easier to get going in the morning because we won’t have to change! Wait a minute, did we eat?

Ahhh. . . the stressed-out life!

Oh, and just a friendly reminder, we have the holiday seasons coming up soon, which some say are the most stressful times of the year. . . ready to scream yet?  Well that’s probably not a bad idea, quite healthy in fact, as long as it isn’t at someone!

I’m giggling as I enjoy the funny, playful side of myself today, despite the dreary dark weather that is happening outside my window as I write.  

I remember when my days were just like this and the stress I created accompanying my frustrations.  I finally realized that I only had control over my behaviours and reactions to others and circumstances in my life, and no matter how mad I got, how hard I blamed, criticized, judged or tried to motivate it, I could not “make” the sun come out on a dark rainy day!

As a recovering control freak, I can now admit that it was hard to accept, let alone fathom, that the only thing in my life that I was in complete control over was me.  I was so busy trying to “make” everyone and everything outside of me, behave, do and be exactly the way I wanted or thought they should be in order for me to be happy or to feel good.  I didn’t see how out of control I was with the very thing that I had complete control over!

Okay, are you with me so far?  Some of you may be laughing as you have identified your control freak tendencies already and those of you who may still be in the closet, denial or aren’t sure where you stand on the control scale, if you’re ready to hear it, just ask someone.

I now humbly admit as a parent, by trying to “make” my children do anything I not only created my own stress, but also robbed them of finding the way to take responsibility for themselves. . . an issue that many parents and teachers share with me that they struggle with.

I can laugh now, although it wasn’t funny then, as I conjure up the image of me on one side of the bathroom door and my son on the other during one of our shower power struggles. . . or the battle on the homework front and the cycle of rewards and punishments for expected grades to make me proud. . . or when my disappointment in my kids was evidenced by a condition that I didn’t realize I suffered from called IROTES (Involuntary Rolling Of The Eyes Syndrome).

I realized that the angrier and louder I got, the less they listened and heard. . . the more I nagged, the deeper they dug in their heels and I finally got that I couldn’t flip the “take responsibility” switch to the on position--that was their job.  So as hard as it was, I let go. . . let go of control!

If your treadmill and stress level is anything like mine was and you would like some relief, here are just few tips.  Let go of the things you can’t control and control the things you can (you!).  Have a good laugh at and with yourself as you notice the urge to comment to your daughter, “You’re not wearing that, are you?” or insist that your son get his hair cut because you don’t like it or are worried about what others may think, maybe find yourself slipping into the sergeant major role of barking orders; catch yourself before you say, “Because I said so!” or get frustrated having to wake your kids up after their alarm goes off.  I’ll let you in on a little secret:  they don’t have to get up because they know you’ll come in and wake them, but once they know you won’t, guess what?  They get up on their own!  This letting go stuff is amazing!

We have many areas in our life where we create our own stress, and even if you don’t have kids, I hope you join me on the recovering control freak side of life--it’s a lot more fun and a lot less stressful for you and others in your life.  You may even have the chance to feel the benefits on the way home from work tonight as you sit in your car laughing at the traffic jam that you used to think you could control!

Ahhh. . . the lighter side of stress!

* * * * *

Jo-Anne Cutler is committed to making a difference in the world as an awareness coach, author and speaker, giving a voice to millions of children who are in need. She discovered that, as a mother and role model, she had continued cycles of unhealthy behaviours that she was unknowingly teaching her own children.  However, once she became aware of how her words and reactions impacted them and others in her life, she made a conscious choice to change. Awareness is the key to any change and Jo-Anne’s passion for helping children find their voice and for it to be heard ignited her vision:  to empower and inspire you to be the parent, teacher and role model the children of this world need you to be.


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