When was the last time you just stopped what you were doing to take a moment to just be and breathe? Stress and chaos seem to be the common speed for so many of us these days with every moment filled with something "to-do," always pushing forward and rarely taking a moment or two to pause and just be where we are.
Stress can unconsciously become like a drug to some of us. We're fueled by it, feed off of it, talk about how stressed we are all the time but never really do anything about it.
Do we feel stuck in place? Scared of what would happen if we slowed down even a little bit? Or do we not want to know what thoughts and feelings we might have to face and actually work through if our bodies and minds settled into a few moments of silence and solitude? Or maybe we're afraid of losing our edge if we let compassion and vulnerability replace judgment and putting on a brave face?
I imagine it's all of these things really. I used to feel propelled to do more and do it better and for longer because of the overwhelmingly normalized pace we all accept as "just how it is" or "how it has to be these days." Sound familiar?
But besides that drive to "keep up," diving head first into stress and losing ourselves in it can also be the way we escape.
It gives us something to focus our energy on so we don't have to stop, get quiet and listen to what's really driving us underneath the frenzied pace.
Being absorbed in the stress of the day means we don't pause long enough to ask ourselves the right questions or listen for the answers. Instead, we focus on trying to figure out how we can keep up, do more and do it faster.
And we justify it because we're stressed out and overwhelmed, we have too much to do, we tell ourselves we'll get to all that self-care and self-reflection stuff when we're not so busy. But the thing is, that less busy time never comes unless we allow it to.
The thing about this pattern that can be so hard to get our heads around is that we are the ones creating it.
It's pretty much a given that there will be moments where we'll all feel stressed out, overwhelmed, or frustrated. But the great and truly powerful thing is, how we respond to it and what we do to make peace with and process it is totally in our hands. It's completely up to you how you deal with those feelings and moments.
In a nutshell, you can feed the stressful energy by letting it consume you or you can transform it by pausing and reconnecting with yourself to see what's really going on. I am far from perfect in this area, believe me, it can be super easy (and tempting!) to get caught up in the drama of it all and feed the beast by throwing up your hands and believing that's just the way it is.
But there is another way.
This may sound strange, but I’ve learned that our response to stress has a lot to do with how much we’re fighting being with the present moment. We actually create more stress in our lives by insisting that things should not be as they are right now. We struggle against the present moment because we think it should be different than it is, and that stresses us out even more.
But what would our lives be like if we simply let situations be what they are? And what does that actually mean in our daily lives?
I’ve found that the more I can trust what’s happening right now is exactly what’s supposed to happen, the more I can simply accept what is.
This may seem like an impossible idea when you're in the midst of a challenging situation, but everything we experience is there to help us in some way.
It might not feel that way all the time, but sometimes we need to go through things over and over again in different places with different people until we wake up and get the lesson we were supposed to learn.
We often tell ourselves a story about this or that being difficult or a struggle, but really, how much of that comes from just wanting it to be different and resisting the lesson we’re meant to learn in that moment?
I say it has everything to do with it.
It can feel uncomfortable at first when we start practicing trying to be at peace with what is happening to us, or to put it another way—what’s happening for us. And that’s actually a good thing because every time we step out of our imagined comfort zone we grow and open up to possibilities for our lives we might never have seen otherwise.
And when we take the time to pause in the middle of it all to feel what we need to feel and find a way to make peace with how things are, even when we want them to change, we create a pocket of space so we can learn the lesson and move forward as a stronger and more authentic version of ourselves.
As Debbie Ford said, “When we stop resisting and surrender to the situation exactly as it is, things begin to change.”
Your ability to make peace with the present moment may change overnight or it make take time, but the key here is to stop believing that you won't or can’t be happy or feel peaceful unless everything is as you think it should be, right now.
That constant conflict we create within ourselves when we resist the present puts our bodies and minds into a churning stressful cycle, so by releasing that constant need to make everything fit into the image or box we think it needs to be in we can free ourselves. And we make the choice to do that or the opposite every day.
We always have a choice.
That’s why I created a free guide to help you navigate the stressful situations so many of us find ourselves getting lost in. It’s full of tips and practices that will help you reconnect to your intuition and find a sense of peace when you're stressed or overwhelmed so you can live your life to the fullest, not just survive the daily grind.