In review of my life, I don’t recall a time when I wasn’t stressed out about something or someone. Everything needed to be done a certain way. Money was tight and schedules were tight. Cleaning up after my children was constant and it seemed like three meals a day was just too much to handle. Do we really need to eat that often? (Children are always hungry – even between meals). I thought being stressed was perfectly normal and although I hated the tense way I felt, I didn’t think anything more of it except that life was stressful. When I got to treatment and the same wave of tension overcame my experience, one of the counsellors said to me, “You’re stressed because that’s what you do.” Period. End of sentence. Dreadlocks waving at me in the wake of her swagger. This intuitive hippy/Yoda-like woman never explain anything after she dropped these simple statements like galactic facts. She just left us with cliff-hangers that we had to grab onto and explore for ourselves. I wasn’t into that at all, but when truth speaks, it shouts aloud in your gut, and when she said this to me, I knew that I was royally screwed until I understood what she meant.
Fine. I know Miss-Yoda is right because she has a knack of knowing things that normal human beings can’t possibly comprehend. What the hell is she talking about that I stress… because that’s what I do? I looked around me and observed that most of the other clients weren’t stress-cases in their job functions like me. I was alone in my stressed out way of being. I wasn’t doing anything more than anyone else. If anyone should be stressed, it should be the cooks in the kitchen, but they were always so calm and in the moment.
I recall being stressed out whenever I had to plan a party for my children, or before holidays when I had to purchase and wrap presents. Getting out the decorations overwhelmed me. Christmas was always hell for me. My ideal Christmas would be to jump on a cruise ship and run away from the ugly decorations and madness. I literally hated that holiday. It still gets to me a little bit because I feel like it comes too often. Every other year would be ideal, but every twelve months is overkill if you ask me. Anyway, the point is that I was always a stress-case whenever I had to plan anything that required a lot of money and wrapping and buying of decorations. So I lived like this for several years, but I had a mother-in-law at the time that was ALWAYS busy and ALWAYS planning stuff. She put on a party like she was filing her nails. It came very naturally to her and she could pull stuff together in a moment’s notice, while she was laughing and enjoying herself. In treatment, I recalled this about her and I KNEW that it WAS me who chose to be stressed out about things. People plan and produce big happenings all the time without feeling overwhelmed. What was I doing wrong?
It’s been three years, and I’ve practiced NOT stressing out like I’ve practiced NOT picking up alcohol. Up until this very year, I struggled. I literally walked around for years and years feeling like an anchor was buried between my shoulder blades. Physical pain, headaches, sleeplessness over things I had no control over. Life sometimes comes at you fast, especially when you do things on a whim like me (like moving in a weeks notice). I had to learn how to Zen-out like Yoda and be present instead of worrying what could go wrong. I think that’s what got to me the most – having anxiety about the lack of time, and knowing that it may not get done on time. This was an illusion. When you slow down, accept that there is a lot to do, but it doesn’t all have to be done this very second, there is plenty of time. Life eases up and you can simply do one thing at a time, and remain present in each moment as you are getting things done.
I have a LOT to stress about today. A LOT! If I told you what was coming up for me, you would think I was insane for not being stressed out – but I’m not. I’m completely aware of everything that sits before me, but I know what I can handle right this very moment and what I cannot handle right this very moment, so I balance that out, and I literally choose to not tense up about it. It does not help me to be tense. I serves absolutely no good purpose. It just makes life much more difficult. What I cannot handle, I announce to the universe (Dear God, I have a lot coming up for me that I can’t exactly handle all at once. It’s a little too much for me, so I’m going to turn that stuff over to you. Please help me manage my time and to enjoy each moment without worrying about the next. Please provide me what I need when I need it, and please give me clarity in each moment so that I know what I’m supposed to be doing). When I feel tired, I rest. When I feel a bit overwhelmed, I take a little break. It’s that simple. You really don’t need to rush through things and pressure yourself. It’s not necessary.
Since I’ve been practicing this calm way of being, I’ve had a lot of “stressful” situations come before me, and because I was aware of my decision to not be stressed, I understood that these were simply moments of truth. I had to practice what I yearned to become. So that’s what I’ve been doing and the last thing I’ve been buying into is that I need to stress out. Stressing out does not make things any easier. On the contrary. I have this little voice inside of me that tells me if I don’t stress out, that I’m delusional. I tell that little voice to go to hell. I don’t have time for that gibberish. Putting your body, mind and soul in that state of worry or pressure, is a terrible, terrible way to live. It is a lie that you need to be stressed. You don’t.
I was the stress-out queen and now I am one of the calmest person I know. I just don’t give into that part of myself anymore. It’s dead to me. Even when I was choosing the type of job I wanted last year, I avoided the ones that I knew would bring on too much stress. I chose a job that was easy going, which paid the same. If you choose not to be stressed, you will be surprised at how many more choices you get to make. Life will provide what you request, especially if you are certain about what you want and what you don’t want. You DO NOT have to settle. Life will deliver exactly what you request if you put it out there and when you are clear about what you want. It truly will.
If something comes up now, I look at it in the face and deal with it right then and right there. If I can put it off for a little while because it’s overwhelming, I do that too, knowing that I am going to have to face it sooner or later, but I don’t stress about it while I’m putting it off. If it’s bugging me too much, then I deal with it immediately. There are ways around stress. You simply have to be aware of what is right in front of you and take charge of it. Sometimes it’s a person that you know is going to blow up, so just prepare your mind and body to take that all in before it happens, and when it happens, there are no surprises. Nothing like that can really kill you or truly hurt you anyway – we fear a ghost most of the time. You can’t do what you can’t do, and in those moments, you’ve just got to suck it up and let the cards fall as they may. Do your best, stay present and be aware of what is before you, but don’t allow it to take over your well-being. Life is too short to stress out about something that won’t matter even one week from now. Trust me – If I can overcome my own stressed out way of being, ANYONE can.