I once knew a woman who discovered that her emotions were running away with her and making her nervously ill. She at once went to work with a will, and every time something happened to rouse this great emotional wave she would deliberately force herself to relax and relax until the wave had passed over her and she could see things in a sensible light. When she was unable to go off by herself and lie down to relax, she would walk with her mind bent on making her feet feel heavy. When you drop the tension of the emotion, the emotion has nothing to hold on to and it must go.
I knew another woman who did not know how to relax; so, to get free from this emotional excitement, she would turn her attention at once to figures, to her personal accounts or even to saying the multiplication table. The steady concentration of her mind on dry figures and on “getting her sums right” left the rest of her brain free to drop its excitement and get into a normal state again.
Again it is sometimes owing to the pleasant emotions which some women indulge in to such an extreme that they are made ill. How many times have we heard of women who were “worn to a shred” by the delight of an opera, or a concert, or an exciting play? If these women only knew it, their pleasure would be far keener if they would let the enjoyment pass through them, instead of tightening up in their nerves and trying to hold on to it.
Nature in us always tends toward health, and toward pleasant sensations. If we relax out of painful emotions we find good judgment and happy instincts behind them. If we relax so that pleasant emotions can pass over our nerves they leave a deposit of happy sensation behind, which only adds to the store that Nature has provided for us.
To sum up: The two main reasons why women are nervous are that they do not take intelligent care of their bodies, and that they do not govern their emotions; but back of these reasons is the fact that they want their own way altogether too much. Even if a woman’s own way is right, she has no business to push for it selfishly. If any woman thinks, “I could take intelligent care of my own body if I did not have to work so hard, or have this or that interference,” let her go to work with her mind well armed to do what she can, and she will soon find that there are many ways in which she can improve in the normal care of her body, in spite of all the work and all the interferences.
To adapt an old saying, the women who are overworked and clogged with real interferences should aim to be healthy; and, if they cannot be healthy, then they should be as healthy as they can.
Positive and Negative Effort