Anxiety and O.P.P. – Guest Blogger – Tracey Painter – May 2017

No, not that O.P.P., but the O.P.P. that stands for “Other People’s Problems.” A lot of people with anxiety accumulate a mass amount of anxiety from other people’s problems. Especially when our own problems settle down, we start taking on another anxiety project. Usually several at once. We want to take care of or worry about other people. Sometimes because we want a break from our own problems, sometimes because it is a habit, but usually, because we don’t know what to do with ourselves when we aren’t feeling anxiety.

I just recently took huge O.P.P. problem on myself. I knew better. But I convinced myself that this situation was different. After I took over a problem that belonged to someone else and did it myself, I spent an entire 30 days with a non-stop anxiety stomach ache. I knew this situation would cause a confrontation, so every time my phone chimed with emails, texts, calls, or private messages, my adrenaline kicked in and my anxiety went through the roof. I was afraid to answer the door and get my mail. Yes, 30 days of doing this. I could feel it. I wanted to stop it. But I had taken something that wasn’t mine. I paid the price not only with awful anxiety, but my body was not happy either. My back started hurting and the pain kicked in.

But I needed to learn that lesson. Again.

You see, we are not made to take on anything else but our own stuff. Things that were meant for us. We are not given the energy, power, or even ability to deal with other people’s problems. It’s okay to care, emphasize, sympathize, and listen. But when you get your messy little hands in it, not only are you hurting yourself but you are doing a huge disservice to the other person. You are taking away from their own lessons, practice, endurance, patience and abilities. This goes for your kids, your significant other, your friends, your family, strangers, everyone! When you take it away from them, it has to come back to them again. Let them get through it the first time. It’s the right thing to do.

I’m not talking about helping others. This is very different. You help others by giving (not advice, but love). Very different than TAKING from them. It’s the difference between doing something to help and doing something to control or fix. When you take problems and troubles from someone, you are taking away their chance to grow. I know. It’s so very awful to watch the one’s you love suffer and struggle. If you are like me, you know suffering well and want to go ahead and take it away from them so you can deal with it (control) and they can be happy again. But no one ever grew or learned important lessons by giving their problems away or by avoiding them. Think about it. It’s through our pain that we take the time to look at what is wrong and do what we need to do to get through and heal. Don’t take that away from someone else.

So, what do you do with all that extra time and freedom? That lack of O.P.P.? That is a perfect time to breathe, read, exercise, work on a hobby, enjoy the moment! Keep your mind busy with things you enjoy and away from looking for something else to be anxious about. Enjoy your time of rest. You need it.

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