Friday, February 17, 2012

Are Your Ears Connected to Your Mouth?

The busy-ness of life is stressful for most people. For those of us with chronic illnesses it is downright overwhelming. I have a very challenging 10 days staring me in the face. We are moving the lupus foundation office. Ash Wednesday is next week which means additional preparation for church and for school. One of the high ranking Salesians is visiting the parish. I have two youth Masses and substituting at another parish in the evening. And this weekend I have 4 performances of Alice in Wonderland with my students and there is still work to be done on the sets. There are other things, but this list is more than enough.

Reflecting on this past week, I observed myself listing these activities when I was speaking to people. The more I heard myself articulating the list, the more agitated I became. I am not sure where this script came from. Perhaps, I am trying to validate how hard I will be working by telling other people. Perhaps, I am making some kind of check list.Perhaps I am trying to impose order on the week. Whatever the motivation, the result is the same. I am borrowing stress from the future.

What we tell ourselves and what we tell others can bring us peace or turmoil. Working with lupus patients and people with chronic illnesses, I often hear well-rehearsed litanies of complaints. I used to recite my own litany, especially to friends and family. My hands hurt. I am so tired. The drugs weaken my immune system. My feet are so stiff in the morning I can hardly walk. And on and on...Perhaps I was trying to validate my suffering. Perhaps I thought that saying it out loud would make my suffering real to other people. Whatever the motivation, concentrating on the list caused stress which in turn, made me feel worse.

One night, after playing for Shabbat services at a local Reformed Jewish congregation, an elderly lady who was upset by the sermon went to the rabbi and saidd, "So, Rabbi, are your ears connected to your mouth?" Do we really listen to what we are saying? How is what we are saying impacting our health and our life? Are YOUR ears connected to YOUR mouth? Take a day to be a witness to what you say.

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