You’re sick of your situation. Your partner is driving you up the wall, the kids are too. You’re frustrated with your job. You’re tired of feeling overwhelmed. If things would just finally CHANGE, you’ll feel so much better.
Wanna hear something interesting?
The stress and frustration you’re experiencing has nothing to do with what’s happening right now in this minute. Really, truly.
The stress you’re experiencing is nothing more than resistance to what is. That’s it. Yes, your resistance to what is is the sole cause of your discomfort, unhappiness, and flat-out stress.
Pretty interesting, right? Here’s what to do with this.
Your stress isn’t now. Let’s start with the fact that stress doesn’t exist in the present moment. Hold up, I sense your doubt but just hear me out. When you’re stressed and resisting your current situation, what’s the focus of your thoughts? I’ll guarantee it’s not focused on the right-here-now moment. The focus of your thoughts is in the projected and imaginary future state in which your current situation is the same, or worse. The focus of your thoughts is around an idea that this stress, pain, discomfort, and/or struggle will not end for a while and your stress is coming from the anticipation that the end in sight is maybe not that much in sight.
Check it out. Take any stressful situation you have going on – anything that is causing any amount of misery and ask yourself: “Where does the misery exist?”
Is it right here in this exact moment NOW as you’re reading this, or is it when you’re thinking about the imminent journey that this situation may travel, extending the misery and strife?
It’s anxiety from the imagined future state. It’s not right now.
Now get really present, shift your attention to your body and just drop your thoughts for a second. Look around you, what is real right now this very second? Nothing really stressful, right?
Ok, now even if you’re reading this from your phone while giving your kids a bath, both screaming and splashing, the smoke alarm is going off, the dog is barking, the doorbell is ringing with an urgent package that must be signed for, and your homemade soup is boiling over I’d STILL argue that any stress you’re feeling is not caused by the what-is-ness of right now, it’s the resistance to the what-is-ness AND the idea that it’s not over. (Meaning, it’s in your imagined future state.)
Here are 3 REAL ways to change your frame and remove the stress you’re feeling from your current situation:
- Feeling overwhelmed? Stressed? Miserable? Simply acknowledge that you’re resisting what is. Many times this simple acknowledgement will transform your resistance into acceptance. But let’s be clear – I’m not talking about resignation where you’re not going to do anything about your situation. By acknowledging your resistance to what is you can shift from reaction to response (see a recent post for more on that). In “response” you can act. In response you are present and powerful. In response you are never stressed.
(Practical example: next time you’re stuck behind a really slow driver when you’re in a hurry and get angry, simply acknowledge that you’re resisting what is and see what happens to your anger.)
- If this doesn’t do it for you, then acknowledge that your stress does not exist now. It’s in your imagined future. Don’t paint a miserable future, tell a different story and get present NOW. Forget the past, drop the future, and simply be with what is right now. It is a moment. And every moment is manageable.
- Bonus step (and definitely my favorite if you want to do more than just find relief): Fast forward to the vision you’d like to be true whenever that future state for you is. Tomorrow? Two months? Three years? See the perfect scenario that would make you happy. Now tell the story backwards and explain to yourself how the current situation was absolutely necessary, absolutely on purpose, to get you to this vision.
Painting backwards is AWESOME because it doesn’t just remove the stress from the current circumstance (i.e. the imagined future state) but it puts the current situation in a light where you automatically shift into gratitude and purposefulness. And in my book, that’s WAY more enjoyable than stress. 🙂
I share these tips because they are the three things I do regularly and as a result I can say that my life is pretty damn good. Sure, I get knocked off my center and get overwhelmed… often. (Anyone with two small kids can attest to this.) But, practicing these tips regularly can recondition you to a state where stress and “overwhelment” are an exception and not the norm. Therefore, because you won’t be so conditioned to negative emotion, it’s easy to catch and recenter as soon as it happens.
Try these three tricks out and see what happens. Report back and tell me if it helps YOU to live in the present and on purpose. If not, what does? Leave your comments, insights, and questions and please share with a friend if this gave you some inspiration today!