You know those weeks where it seems like the world is determined to break your spirit? It’s been one of those…
Normally, I don’t handle stress well. It’s probably no surprise to people who know me, but I tend to break down when things get to be too tough. I have a bad habit of running away, or compartmentalizing things, until I feel it’s gone- only to have it follow me into oblivion.
Lately, however, I’ve started to own my stress. Like a badge of livelihood, a medal of being alive, I realize stress is just another emotion that when hidden, projects onto other aspects of my life. Quite like the Shadow Work I’ve discussed, and will continue discuss in the future, stress isn’t always ugly.
Stress means I care. Stress means I have goals and expectations of my life. Stress also means that my survival instincts will prevail and I will come out on the other end stronger than ever.
However, before I can get there, I have to relax. Seems counterintuitive to my point, but I promise the two go hand-in-hand.
Relaxing allows me to see past the impulse to run away, and delve into the deeper issues of why I’m anxious in the first place.
The other day I had to watch as Death visited and took our beloved family dog by way of euthanasia. I have lived with the aftermath of Death, but I’ve never seen him in person before. It was absolutely terrible, and left me traumatized, as the sounds of labored breathing as Diesel crossed over will haunt my dreams for months to come.
It was a terrible ending to an otherwise shitty week, and I needed to decompress before I exploded.
I hopped in my pool, while no one was home, and floated on my back watching the sky move above me for what seemed like hours. I watched the clouds and asked them to paint me pictures. Delighted to be seen, it complied with several beautiful arrangements of fluffy white images that resonated so deeply to the tension I was feeling.
As I floated there, I realized it was the first time I’d ever sat with my stress. I’ve meditated, moving my emotional burdens to another part of my brain that releases without thought, but to think on what is bothering me- without dwelling on it- was new.
I came to the conclusion that like any other emotion, stress just wants to be heard. It’s not a monster sitting and waiting to pounce on us, hoping to destroy our happiness, but a malnourished stray wishing for some understanding and love.
Relaxing brought me closer to my anxiety, ironically; It allowed me to sort out what was actually worth keeping and what I could chuck in the fuck-it bucket.
That conversation that didn’t go so well and left me feeling insecure: chuck it. I can’t change it. Besides, they probably didn’t pick up on my awkwardness anyway.
That bill that I need to pay: chuck it. I know I’ll be able to take care of it on time, so why let it keep me up at night?
My son’s first vacation away from me: keep and chuck it. He’s my son, I’ll never stop worrying- but he’ll in safe hands. Why worry about “what-ifs” and bring about a disaster through the Law of Attraction??
My feelings about death: keep. I would have thought this was the one I’d want to chuck, but instead, I realized that holding on to this “stress” allows me to further appreciate life. I love life. I need the reminder to enjoy it every now and again, and I need to remember that time only goes one way.
Relaxing also brought me clarity on how much I let the small things eat away at me. As I rested there in the warm water, I learned there’s so much that I hold on to that’s not my responsibility; the expectations of others that have been placed on my without my consent, the stupidity of the masses, the drama of acquaintances, the intentions of strangers, etc.
I hold on to these things and carry them like daggers pointed at my own heart- unaware that all I need to do to remove their pain is to let them go.
If I’d taken my normal path, and ran away, I’d be sitting here draining myself as I gave away all my energy to either not thinking about things, or over-thinking them.
Instead, I’m calm. I owned my stress by relaxing. I conquered my anxiety of the moment by resting. I listened to my emotional burdens and I heard them- taking stock of what was needed and what wasn’t.
And I’m all the better for it.
I highly suggest you try doing the same. Think on your stress, in a comfortable way, under the sky and allow the clouds to tell you a story. If possible, do so in a body of water that creates a weightless feeling of intimacy between your physical being and your spiritual one.
You might be surprised what you learn about yourself.
Until next time, my friends…