Have you ever heard the idiom “don’t cry over spilled milk?” In simple terms, it means not to waste energy worrying about life’s unpleasantries that are beyond your control. Basically, a dreadful thing happened, you cannot change it, so move on. Apparently, this idiom has its own unofficial national holiday, and today, February 11th, is the day to celebrate it. This idiom originated from the book, Paramoigraphy, written by James Howell, in 1659.
1659?!?! This book was written during colonial times! Any time I read something that was written during that period, as a Black woman, the first thing my mind travels to is how my ancestors were enslaved. Then, I think of present day systematic and systemic racism which is another form of enslavement. My next thought: how racism affects my husband, children, relatives, and Black friends. Finally, I spend time reflecting on my firsthand experiences concerning racism. Those moments of reflection evoke feelings of anger, but also feelings of gratefulness to God for protecting my family and I from “danger seen and unseen” (as the well-seasoned Black church folks would say).
I will now invite you to ponder on this question…How could I, a Black woman, encourage others not to cry over spilled milk, when I have shed tears over the spilled blood of my brothers and sisters, who died at the hands of purely evil humans? Whew chile… I will tell you this; it is a complicated matter. Worrying about things you cannot control causes unnecessary anxiety and depression. It will cause a decline in physical health and literally shave years off your life, according to this study. You may be thinking, Anna, does this mean you are not angered or worried about past or current racial injustices? That is an emphatic HELL to the NO! Of course, I am still angered and worried! However, I will say that age and experience have caused me to move smarter. I try not to let my emotions guide my actions anymore. In the past, my emotions have gotten me into some trouble. Because I am a certified meditation and mindfulness instructor, I use reflection, breathing, and mindfulness techniques, to help me remain focused on my personal and professional mission. I empower and teach people to use tools that promote their journey to self-love, self-discovery, and self-healing through coaching and the creative thinking process. Through my teaching and coaching, I witnessed many beautiful souls do amazing work within their leadership and social justice roles. I consider my teachings to be a form of activism. As a part of the Black community, there is a lot of work to be done and it cannot be done effectively if we are letting emotions lead.
Regarding the idiom do not cry over spilled milk, realistically, no one can go back and change the past. However, reflecting (not focusing) on certain past mistakes could allow one to make better future decisions. Situations like a petty fight with a partner or family member, an encounter with a nasty cashier, or perhaps you were mean to an undeserving beautiful soul, deserves some sort of reflection and action on your part. Only you can decide what that looks like. There are various levels to healing and coping depending on the situation; sometimes it is not easy to move on.
My concluding thoughts as a Black woman, on the unofficial national holiday, don’t cry over spilled milk day… EFF that! Give yourself space to feel what you need to feel but please do not unpack and live there. I am in a point in my life where I give myself space for feelings, assess the situation with a logical head, watch, pray, then move smart. I strongly encourage you to do the same.
Meier, S. M., Mattheisen, M., Mors, O., Mortensen, P. B., Laursen, T. M., & Penninx, B. W. (2016, September). (“Increased mortality among people with anxiety disorders ...”) Increased mortality among people with anxiety disorders: Total population study. "The British journal of psychiatry: the journal of mental science." (“Classification Systems in Psychiatry: Diagnosis and Global ...”) Retrieved February 9, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5082973/