Don’t Just Breathe, Exhale

I constantly read about how concentrating on one’s breath can bring about instant relief. Feeling overwhelmed? Worried about what others are thinking about you? Count backwards from 10 to 1 while thinking of nothing but your breath. But that doesn’t make the problem go away.

Sure, being calm definitely helps in decision making, and I’m not trying to knock this simple anxiety trick out of style. However, I do think that, sometimes, just being calm isn’t enough. I think it’s important to have an understanding that other people and other people’s problems are not yours. It’s simple enough to say and many people have said it before me. But have you really ever thought about it? How, no matter what a person is going through, it hardly ever affects you? The only thing that affects you are your worries about their worries. So separate yourself from them. Just telling yourself that it’s not your problem isn’t enough. Actually think about it. Go over in your head how even the worst case scenario would play out. And you shouldn’t be in that scenario. Even when things go well for others it rarely has an affect on your life outside of the thoughts and feelings you have about those people. And yes, while feeling for others is a wonderful skill to have, you don’t need to feel for them so directly. Their problems are their problems, not yours. Just like your problems are yours, not theirs.

Again, inserting yourself out of goodwill is wonderful and all, but don’t take it too far. Even if you’re Superwoman you can’t solve everyone’s problems. You can still participate in a world that isn’t yours as long as you remember it isn’t your world. Your life, no matter how intertwined with others, is its own thing that you need to attend to first and foremost. Don’t deny your life for the sake of someone else’s. Let them live their life and let yourself live yours. And no, I’m not trying to say that you should exercise yourself from others outright. All I’m trying to say is that one person can only handle so much. Don’t put everything on your shoulders alone. Instead of in-and-out, think out. Helping a friend, family or even a complete stranger is something a lot of us are prone to doing. However, all we can do is help. No matter how much we may want to we can never solve all their problems for them. That’s for them to do.


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