Do you want to run smoothly or do you want your life to run smoothly?
The victim position:
If you fight reality, you lose, but only every time. This is the victim position. Mostly we want the world to be different so we can feel better. It’s not going to happen very often. You learn to run smoothly and navigate the ups and downs of life.
Mindfulness never worked well for me and most of the people I’ve spoken to. Not surprising. The mind doesn’t respond well to being told to do something.
Rather feel your way into releasing ruminations and fantasies about the past and the future. Ask yourself: “What would it feel like to be here now …” in a loose and relaxed way.
Is this really an emergency?
Are you the kind of person who makes emergencies out of nothing?
Maybe it’s just having to make or take a phone call now, or you just have to check the text that just came through on your phone, or the steak dare not be ready before the chips, or a guest is arriving and you aren’t dressed yet or you house is in a mess.
You are surfing online and you see a piece of music, or a book or you are trying to download a video and it’s not working and you make this ‘not-getting-what-I-want’ an emergency and your stress level goes through the roof.
Just ask yourself the question: “What would my life be like if I didn’t have this thing right now?” or “Can I stop for a moment and not respond as if this is so urgent?”
The mind makes a catastrophe out of thin air!
I learnt a wonderful thing from John Kehoe some years ago. He mentioned how a friend came up to him one day and said: “Did you go to that amazing concert upstate New York last week?”
Kehoe said: “No I didn’t.”
And the friend replied, absolutely horrified: “I can’t believe you missed it!”
And Kehoe smilingly responded: “I miss things all the time.”
What a beautiful teaching.
Let go of your rigid belief systems:
This ‘Kehoe’ lesson is about beliefs. Most people aren’t aware of how their belief systems create stress. Any resistance to any event puts you in the victim position and that is stressful. If your partner isn’t being supportive of you and you believe that they should be; this belief is causing you stress. If you think your kids should be better behaved, then this is causing you stress. If you think you should be approved of more of the time, it’s stressful. All of the pain and rejection you are experiencing causes you stress, but only if you believe it shouldn’t be happening.
Start questioning your belief systems.
Learn to live with incompleteness:
Quite simply, life is filled with things half done or not started yet and it’s endless. If you can learn to embrace this you will dissolve an immense amount of your stress.
Love yourself for no reason or hate yourself for 100 … Which is easier?
Self-rejection and judgement drains energy from your mental, physical and emotional systems. Judgements are stressful. To learn to connect with an energy of love more and more of the time, internally and ultimately to love yourself for no reason, reduces stress immensely.
Love and anxiety are mutually exclusive emotions. If your anxiety is high, the chances are your self-love is low and vice versa. Love yourself more of the time and you will reduce anxiety and hence stress.
Whatever technique you want to start working on, the chances are you will stop; so before you start, write down 20 reasons why you want to reduce your stress. Type them up, print them out and put them somewhere you can read them, every day. If you don’t have a very powerful motivation to do the work, you will probably give up!
Mark Kahn is a practicing Clinical Psychologist and Management Consultant.