How To STOP The Never-Ending Stress Cycle
What's covered: Why changing your life circumstances won't necessarily equal less stress; How to create more peace no matter what, PLUS What not to say if you want to create a *calmer* 2021
2020 - What a kicker!
I don't know anyone who hasn't been deeply touched, thrown around or sidelined by this year in some life-changing way.
Personally, I don't think I've cried OR laughed so much. (Probably best to mention here that laughing is one of my defence mechanisms for when the sh*t hits the fan.)
It would be so easy to say: "Things will be better when [fill-in the blank]."
You've probably caught yourself saying a few of the following lines, particularly in 2020:
Things will get better when...
I get that new job / I leave that old job
I'm in that new relationship / I end this old relationship
I have that new house / I'm out of this old house
COVID-19 is no longer an issue
I can see family and friends from interstate again
Or this tried and true, end-of-the-year pearler: Things will be better in 2021 (substitute year as need be)
But you WON'T catch me saying that, and here's why...
It puts our focus on a mythical future where problems or stresses no longer exist; a place where we are no longer challenged or confronted and everything works out.
I don't want to be the messenger of doom 'n' gloom, but it's just not true. And I know, if you honestly reflect on your life, you'll know it to be true too.
For example, Jenny hates her job and instead starts her own business. Initially, Jenny is stressed-out because her business isn't taking off. Soon though, her business is thriving, and she's overwhelmed and stressed because she's working 7 days a week.
Another example: Mark feels sad and frustrated because he really wants a new relationship. Then he meets Sally, and although it's great to begin with, he's soon struggling, because he no longer has much time to himself and he's stressed-out juggling his personal and work life.
So if new circumstances don't break the stress cycle, what does?
Accepting what is.
In other words, it's not the details of our life that count, because the details are constantly changing; what does count is cultivating an unchanging response of acceptance to our life situation, regardless of the details. (And I say "cultivating," because it really takes practise and ongoing commitment!)
Instead of that being a depressing or uninspiring thought, it's the exact opposite - it's incredibly EMPOWERING and actually stress-relieving.
So I'm not going to idly wait, hope, wish or reject my current life situation or the ever-changing world circumstances. Rather, I'm going to accept my life as it is, right now (COVID or no COVID, crap or no crap) taking conscious action - or inaction - depending on what feels right in that moment.
If you hear me whingeing or wishing otherwise, then you have total permission to call me out on it!
Talking about acceptance reminds me of a Lady Gaga interview with Oprah. Before I watched the interview, I had no idea Lady G. experienced continuous, all-over, excruciating pain from her toes to the top of her head.
Was she saying to O: "Things will be better when I don't have this pain... I'll unleash my fierce, creative, bad-ass self on the world when I feel better. I'll start turning those burning dreams into a jaw-dropping realty when this pain stops or the calendar kicks over to a new year."
Lady Gaga said something else: "Radical Acceptance."
(You can watch the Lady Gaga interview with Oprah here.)
Keep listening to your body and trusting your wise self,
P.S. Curious about how acceptance can be a powerful catalyst for self healing? Click here to read my story.
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