When Life Throws You Stuff, What Do You Do?

In the past three days, many life things have been thrown at me.

I have to be honest in saying that I’m not all that well trained in dealing with the unexpected. I get sweaty palms, heart flutters, rapid breathing and other signs of a huge rush of adrenaline. Generic fight or flight response.

One of the things that I tend to do when I get stressed, is I PLAN.

So last night, I was WIDE AWAKE with all the stuff in my life bouncing around the inside of my skull. I finally broke down and made a plan. A detailed, hour by hour, exactly what I’m going to do to get everything done, plan.

Once I made that plan, it felt SO good, I fell right asleep and I had the best night sleep in weeks. One would even say I slept through the night!

Did I stick to my plan today? Actually, pretty close, yes.

However, I was thrown a loop today. And now, I have several more things to deal with. And I’m starting to feel that fight or flight response. My response? Do research on the internet!

It’s about control. When I’m feel overwhelmed, panicked or stressed – I do things to feel in control. Plan, research, get people’s opinion. In some cases, it really does solve my problem. But mostly, it just makes me feel better.

On the one hand, I know this. Kind of like I know that drinking coffee makes me shake, yet there are some mornings that I just can’t figure out how I’m going to open my eyes without drinking some. So I go ahead and use my coping mechanisms.

I can plan like this for a couple of days, to feel in control. But after that, it starts to burn me out, and I have to let go. The hyperplanning is a coping strategy. It’s not a new way of life. It’s a way to get my thoughts all together in one place, so they don’t have to swim around in my head anymore. It makes me feel like I’m doing something.

If I had to hyperplan like this everyday, it would wear me down to a nub of a person. And I’ve seen it happen to me before – when I was a student, and when I was a teacher.

Eventually, I had a choice – to keep hyperplanning and lose my humanity and my sanity, or to let some things go, only planning what absolutely had to be planned or my job would be at stake, or my kids would revolt, and letting the universe take care of the rest.

My two-day hour by hour schedule is sitting on my dresser. It soothes me. And I’m pretty close to schedule. But I’ve learned that I can only handle that kind of strict schedule for a few days before I need to relax and find balance again.

I’ve seen my son do this. He and I are a lot alike. We both get hyper, we’re logically oriented, and linear. We also both like to be in control. We both *like* making lists. When we start a project, often time the first thing we do is make a list of what we need and what steps needs to be done. So I’ve seen him schedule out his days – both as a way to express this passion, and as a way to organize his life.

But it’s not something he does all the time. Nor does he thrive on a strict schedule every day. Just sometimes. We both sometimes like to have our day over-the-top scheduled. Sometimes. Usually when we are stressed, or hyper. That doesn’t mean we need it everyday. In fact, too much scheduling makes us both lose our minds, and we start to turn off, get aggravated and disassociated with our projects.

Life is like a wave – sometimes we need freedom, sometimes we need control, and we waiver back and forth.

So, what about you? How do you react when life throws stuff at you?


3 Responses to “When Life Throws You Stuff, What Do You Do?”

  1. Tana Says:

    I hear what you’re saying. I plan only what has to be planned in order to be done – like doctor’s office visits and storytime at the library. The grocery store? It gets lumped with things but isn’t done on a schedule (as in, we’ll be there exactly at 2:00).

    And when I’m stressed, I hyperplan, just like you’re saying. But I think it brings me calm because it tells me how I’m going to get everything done. Otherwise I would be in a constant whirl flitting from one thing to the next and actually accomplishing nothing. It disciplines me to do what I need to do when I need to do it so it gets done. Because if I don’t super-plan, it won’t get done.

    But also, like you, I can only handle a day or two of that. I am so much more sane when I have a list of things to do and then can pick the most appropriate task for the moment, based on my energy level, what others are doing around me, and so forth. I am so much more effective that way. I can put a square peg into a square hole instead of being forced to put a square peg into a round hole just because something has to be done right now or else even though I am not in the mental state to do it very well.

    So really, all I can say is that, yes, I understand.

  2. Sheri Says:

    When life throws stuff at me, first thing I try to do is duck for cover and hope that if anything hits me, that it at least doesn’t stick…hehehe.

    Actually I’m with you guys. I too make lists, plans and schedules when I get overwhelmed.

    Can’t say that I follow through on them most of the time, it’s mostly an exercise in organizing my thoughts and ideas like you said.

    I like that term, “hyperplan”. Great post.

  3. Kimberly Says:

    In a few words, I try to find my rhythm. I decided to keep this comment short and wrote about it on my blog instead.

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