Cattywampus Strife by Kristin Andress March 18, 2024

We experience a lot of cattywampus strife. A lot of off-kilter, crafty, crazy ‘stuff’ that can leave us feeling discombobulated.

It seems there is a lot of strife in the world, and it cultivates strife within. Strife meaning disagreement and conflict, which often is over fundamental issues. That’s a problem too because what is fundamental to one person may not be fundamental to the next. And what is worth having strife about differs based on perspectives. That plays out in the Gaza Strip or at your own dinner table. The difference is scope, but it’s still strife.

Differences – or perceived differences – this is when things go cattywampus.

(The British are having a hay day with that word as it brings us back to colonial times and poking fun at, we daft Americans. The word discombobulated likely has raised dander too.)

Those differences can be between or among people and you. And the differences can be what’s tugging at you in your guts. Do you go with it, gut it out or do you see the possibility in “I got this.” (Bad grammar…but ‘I have this’, doesn’t work as well here.)

Askew or awry is where things go when sh&*t hits the fan. The outcome is stress. You have probably said it or heard, “That (or you) will be the death of me.” Stress does not cause death, but it is a direct contributor to the causes that do.

How do we set straight the cattywampus strife that causes stress? Answer?

There’s no pill. Sorry. Quit here or read on. Maybe what is coming will shift your perspective and thus reduce your stress. However, if you want a magic mushroom never mind.

There is a ton written and taught on stress management, alleviating stress, stress triggers, self-care and stress or symptoms of stress (duh). Google it. You’ll find a lot that’s useful – and overwhelming. You’ll get stressed over trying not to be stressed. You will read a lot that is obvious – breathe, listen to music, take a walk in nature, medicate (try all the previous ones before getting to that please).

All good, and except for the breathing part, temporary.

Silent killer. It’s usually referred to as blood pressure. True. A cause of high BP? Stress.

Saying the word stress amps the feeling. I don’t want to give it any more time.

Stress is a word. Stress is a state. It isn’t a thing. It doesn’t exist like a zit or a blood clot. Oh, but you can see it. It’s visible in our expressions, body language, our use of words and even in personal hygiene. (Interesting since another stress relief tip is a hot bath (scented with lavender, with soft music, and a candle.)

But it (stress) isn’t a thing – until you make something (else) a thing. You can pretty easily identify what people have as a ‘thing’. Just offer an opinion on politics, raising children, healthy eating, good/bad driving, someone else’s business (common). You’ll find out fast if it is a ‘thing’.  Temperature gauges rise if the opinions differ.

You are all of a sudden cattywampus with someone or something when previously it wasn’t up for grabs to cause stress over. Repeated attempts to change someone who is as difficult to change as you are, is like talking to the wind. It might be enjoyable to hear your voice, but it may simply float on air. If it is futile, why engage?

Are things really that important? Some are. For sure. Maybe stick with those you have some control over. The old adage ‘pick your battles’ is probably one of the greatest truths of cattywampus strife reduction.

It pisses me off when I’m told, “Only you have control over you. No one can make you feel like this or that.”  You know why I get mad? Because I tell people that. I say it. And it’s very true. And then when it’s put in my face. Dammit. I know! And I still gave away my power to feel something that either didn’t exist or should not have any part in my existence.

We’ve all done it. Given more meaning to something that is pea-sized in the scheme of things. The little things we get anxious about start rolling into that veritable tumbleweed and by the time it’s picked up speed it is hard – a.k.a. feels like impossible – to stop and think it through clearly.

The pill? Stop being a pill. Acknowledge that it happens – or happened – and probably will again. But knowing this and identifying the fact that we, as humans, spiral in our thoughts and reactions, well…it’s the first step in slowing them down. Maybe with practice, eventually prevention.

A really groovy, long bearded, robe wearing yogi who I follow some is Sadhguru*. He’s funny. He’s direct. Pulls no punches in how things are – and how we created them into something that doesn’t exist until we make it a thing.  He says, “Call it stress, tension or anxiety – essentially it is just this: your intelligence has turned against you.”

Well, f*%K.**

I do not like being or feeling unintelligent. His quote sucker punched me. I know better. What do we (I) get caught up in? Is someone talking smack about me? What do they think? Am I good enough? What impression did I make? Are they happy with me?

Those doggone ‘theys’.  They suck.

Sadhguru has another quote that counteracts my ‘they’ issue that causes my cattywampus strife and it is, “If you are too full of yourself, life has no way to enter you.”

It is kind of vain to think ‘they’ are investing their sweet time on me.  How about I invest that sweet time on my sweet self? How about you do that too? Isn’t that a much better form of being healthy? Get with that program. Release the old programs.

I can also get edgy when I read, “You have within you all that you need.”  Then how come sometimes there are vacancies in there? Gaps in my beliefs? My fulfillment? Feeling loved or loveable? All those things that I have an appetite for that leave me hungry…go missing or are fleeting.

Oh, I have to access that which is within? You mean, effort? I have to do, think or feel?  I must think and learn to know and be me, and then…I might change how I feel or my outlook on what I can minimize – or maximize – in my world?

Buckle up Buttercup.

My world. My life. Your world. Your life. Grand, ain’t it? You bet is my answer. ‘It depends’ may still be yours. Sit there or gamble. There’s little risk in the shift.

Effort and ease.  We can slip into and out of ease. The idea is that the more you choose to see what is real and what is fabricated in your mind, and what is yours to own and not transfer to a person or circumstance, the closer to understanding or acceptance you become.

How do I know? Because I’ve had the panoramic view and could have chosen a variety of landscapes. I’m still painting. (Can I add a few more metaphors…get the picture? (Some got that).

I don’t choose to see life as a battlefield of skirmish after skirmish to overcome. That internal war doesn’t end well. Stress…the outcomes of it…are not sustainable. Living life perpetuating what wasn’t or what is or even worse, the downside of what could be – that’s just exhausting. Why enter the field?

Take a look – a hard look – at what you make a ‘thing’. It it really worth a battle?

I also don’t choose to see life as being simple. If there is a straight road to Avalon/Heaven/Nirvana, the person/people who found it didn’t turn around to write about it and give us a ‘you are here and want to be here’ exact map. Evolution is a mixed bag and it is absolute.

Chaos is in the midst – whether created by you or curated in your environment. It has patterns and repetition and is non-linear. It requires adaptation.

Put your life’s landscape in its proper place. Then place it there again. You’ll get better at handling yourself – your thoughts, words, emotions and deeds. My buddy (I wish) Sadhguru also suggests we can engineer ourselves to inner wellbeing.

That’s what this blog has been talking about. The ‘engineer’ part just sounds too technical of a term, but it’s basically what it is. We lead the process of taking active control of how we shape or view our experiences. Give the reins to ‘they’ if that’s how you decide to roll. I think you’ll find they won’t have your vested interest at heart as much as you do (they is a figment anyway).

If you need to name what happens when you feel jacked up – call it cattywampus strife. Give it a name and you can deal with it.

Maybe it makes you smile…or squint.



**The f-word has liberal uses. Not meant to offend. It’s not a thing for me, but an expressive word. If it’s a thing for you…up to you. I caused myself strife in deciding to even use it with missing letters, but it’s meant only to convey emphasis, so I chose to say what I thought and meant in this context. Like all that needed explanation…whatever. I did.