Friday, July 22, 2011

Peace of mind on demand

Oh, when all I worried about was making sure my children had nice friends, good grades, great health, solid self-esteem and regular dental appointments.

Done, done, done, done and done.

It strikes me that as parents of (young) adult children, our worry doesn’t cease, but only takes new forms between 1:50 and 3:05 a.m.

What if this one or that one doesn’t get the job he/she really wants? What if that one over there doesn’t get into the college he’s fallen in love with? What if the one with everything going her way gets mugged walking to the T? What if, what if, what if. Worry is worse than a bad song that lodges itself in your head, like “You’re the Inspiration” by Chicago.

So I call Jane about some of these. I call Christine about others. I talk to my mother about most of them. In few cases do I talk to my children directly. And why? Because for so long we absorbed their worries like giant parent-sponges and reassured them that fear is a feeling, not information. Now that they are their own sponges, it would be wrong to ask them to absorb ours. But sometimes the advice we get – about our children, or other things – doesn’t quite hit the target.

Then we must become our own counsel. Here’s how. Sit yourself in an imaginary chair across from yourself (don’t do this at work or in the kitchen when everyone’s around). Listen to yourself tell the story of your worry. It is important to take the time you need to hear yourself out and not leave the self-counsel unfinished (unless of course, your brother sends you a hilarious text or FedEx arrives with a box that says Pottery Barn in the upper left corner).

When you’ve heard the whole thing, you will be surprised at the simple truths that emerge from the snarl of circular thinking. When you get to the point of wanting to offer advice, you’re on the way to a better night’s sleep.

It works. If you’re basically happy and optimistic, it is like wearing shoes on the wrong feet to be at odds with life. A little imagination, and you can produce a new view of your tangled thoughts and bring yourself closer to your own counsel. And because you can carry your new therapist around with you day and night, it’s peace of mind on demand!

If it doesn’t work, you can always go to, where they now have free shipping on all pillows.


  1. I always look forward to every single one of your posts, and am never disappointed.

    If the Pottery Barn box has a lamp in it, it's for me.

  2. We are so pottery-barn-alike-ish. Thank you.

  3. Had to stifle giggles several times while reading this. Especially liked the label underneath the picture of sponges. Please keep the posts coming; you are the perfect combination of silly and wise.

  4. Another gem Susan. You inspire me. I have one that has been germinating for a few days and I was stuck. I think you have helped. You always leave me better than you find me.

  5. Dale, one word for that compliment which is "Wow!" Actually, three: "Wow, thank you!"

    And Courtney, let's you and I make the term "silly-wise" the new "smart-funny"

  6. Dorothy WestwaterJuly 24, 2011 at 11:14 AM

    This one made me laugh out loud. SO glad to have you back...