STRESSED OUT? Catch up to the Pain

I was talking to a friend today. This friend is having a very hard time. To say that this friend has hit a rough patch is to say that Hurricane Katrina was a drizzle. Everything around them seems to be falling apart, on it's last leg. Quite honestly, speaking to them is often overwhelming. I would never abandon a friend in need, so I listen, but the mere thought of interacting with them leaves me needing to decompress. As my friend spoke to me about one personal calamity after the other, I began to drift off to the chancy and hazardous areas of my own life (and there are several), and the ways in which my own bad decision-making was to blame.

They say hindsight is 20/20 but I like to say hindsight is super x-ray vision. If you are willing, you can not only see clearly the mistakes you've made, but see through yourself, straight to the heart of the reasons why. If I had to do it all again... Would I? Some of it. Absolutely. Just differently. There are people I allowed in or went far distances with that I would have kept outside the door to my heart or would have only walked a short distance with. There are times I would have reeled myself back in when I pushed over the edge instead of just dancing at the breaking point. There are words I would have said and many I would have not. There are events I would never have planned and many I would have attended.

And with all the change of my past I could dream up, I pass. I would adjust some, but I wouldn't erase it all. I wouldn't completely change. I would love more, starting with myself. And though I may cringe when I replay my lifetime movie in my mind, I see the value. The memories are what make me how I am. Or at least they affect the way I do things. They are what has prepped me for what is to come. Mistakes prepare you, especially when they sting bad enough. Our consequences are blessings. When you feel the pinch of a bad situation you created, more than likely you won't make those same mistakes again. Issues, if you are willing to confront them, can make your senses laser-sharp for the next go 'round. And as long as you are living there will be a next go 'round.

I say embrace your pain (and listen to your friends when they need you to). Pain is a wonderful teacher. Learn from it and release it. You can run away from problems as much as you want but you will probably end up catching yourself.

Catching yourself lying to yourself (or others).
Catching yourself overcompensating.
Catching yourself overindulging.
Catching yourself addicted.
Catching yourself in denial.
Catching yourself being self-destructive.
Catching yourself slipping.
Hopefully you catch yourself before you fall...

Encircle your mistakes. Examine them and confront them. You are the common denominator in every aspect of your life. And you are the only somebody in it that you can change. The truth is nothing makes us WHO we are. We were that before we were born. But it would behoove you to understand HOW you are. Mistakes are your blueprint and motivator.

Angela Ford Johnson is a Philly-based writer and consultant, affectionately known as Angie Writes. Follow her on Twitter ( and Tumblr (

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