New Castle News

October 29, 2012

Lisa Madras: Is it a molehill or a mountain? You really CAN decide

Lisa Madras
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Have you ever turned a ladybug into cancer?

OK, I know the usual expression here is “turning a molehill into a mountain,” but I'd be remiss if I didn't share my latest adventure in overreacting with you.

I was brushing my teeth last Tuesday morning when I noticed in the mirror that I had a rather large brown circle on my upper arm. Blind without my contacts in, I freaked out that I developed what was obviously skin cancer on a portion of my skin that had not even a freckle when I'd gone to bed the night before.

In what was probably only a nanosecond, my mind rolled out the series of results of this latest tragedy — the medical bills would put me in financial ruins ... I wouldn't be able to take care of my kids because of the chemo ... everything I'd worked so hard for would be gone ... I'd die of cancer ... my children would be orphans.

In hindsight, it seems almost comedic, like a slow-motion sequence, my head angling down to look at the evidence of my death sentence, my eyes wide with horror — only to discover that it wasn't a mole at all, but an innocuous little ladybug perched on my arm.

(Now, having just discovered that my life had been spared, one would think that I'd handle this much better news with a little aplomb. But no. I did the whole girly shrieky thing, complete with jumping, screaming, and flicking the little monster across the room as if it was still the personification of the angel of death rather than an innocent insect.)

Of course, I'd immediately gone into panic attack mode, and I'm certain my blood pressure was also through the roof. But I'd launched my toothbrush somewhere behind the laundry hamper, and by the time I fished it out, I'd managed to calm down considerably.

I consider myself a rational person. At times, I even consider myself a sane person. So I'm always taken aback at my mountain-building abilities. It seems like I'm constantly getting myself in trouble by leaping to conclusions without having all the information. For me, it's a fight or flight response, which was pretty useful in caveman days, but not so much nowadays when you accuse your boyfriend of straying just because he called you five minutes later than he said he would.

I used the ladybug story because it's a great example of this intrinsic fault of mine. But more often than not, it's a real person (whom you can't, and probably shouldn't, flick across the room) that gets caught in the caveman crossfire.

So if you're anything like me, and have any desire to let molehills be molehills, (or let ladybugs be ladybugs), here's a few helpful tips from Good Housekeeping magazine's health and wellness columnist Sarah Mahoney (with a little paraphrasing by me, New Castle News’ expert mountain-builder):

Find the Nearest Exit ...

•Breathe deep and get the heck out of the room. Even if you still want to respond to a jab or back-handed comment 24 hours later, you'll be able to do it more rationally and calmly and hopefully not look like a freak on fire.

Look Who's Talking ...

•Make sure that the person you're overreacting to is indeed an expert in the field he/she is criticizing you in. If your father-in-law has a doctorate in laundry folding, then he's probably right that your son's jeans don't have the crease in the right place. If not, consider the source and let it go.

Just This Once, Don't Call a Friend ...

•It feels sooooo good to complain to your BFF, but if the two of you sit around hashing this out for eight hours over a pint of Haagen Dazs and enough Chinese take-out to feed a family of four, you're not going to feel any better about it in the morning. And let's face it, your rear end can only take so much “commiserating” before you've doomed yourself to another six weeks at the gym.

Check Your Ego ...

•While I'd like to think the world revolves around me, the sad fact of the matter is, it doesn't. On the down side, it probably should, and I'll just have to deal with that. On the upside, not everything is my fault. Maybe the neighbor didn't wave today because he simply didn't see me.

Meditate, Don't Ruminate ...

•Don't brood about things. Brooding is the bricks by which the mountain is made. My alliteration here is pretty cool, so maybe I'll write some poetry instead. You can meditate if you're not a writer. Just don't meditate about the thing that's ticking you off.

Sing Your Own Praises ...

•Make a list of your strong suits, and know them by heart. This way when the situation arises, you can list them off. So you forgot to sign your kid's field trip permission slip, and you feel like a bad mom. Well, you've fed them, you've clothed them, and you've kept them alive for this many years. AND you floss every day. So there.