Lately, I hear a lot of people (and the media) talking about the “stress” and “pressure” of these times, so this week, I want to take a look at these two concepts.
It’s so easy to point to the demands of our boss, our creditors, our partner, etc. and label them as “pressure” and “stress.” But ultimately, every decision in life is ours to make, and ours to take responsibility for. I’m not saying there aren’t consequences for the decisions we make, but I am saying that ultimately, the decisions are always ours to make – nobody else can “make” us do anything.
When we say, “my life is full of stress,” what we really mean is “I am PERCEIVING a lot of stress in my life.”
Stress is a perception.
How do we know stress is a perception? Because two people can be in the exact same situation and one can be extremely stressed out, while the other can be cool as a cucumber (or even feel blessed by the so-called “stress”).
Let’s say Bob and Tom both lose their jobs. Bob chooses to believe that the loss of his job means the Universe is guiding him toward a more suitable and inspiring career. During his period of unemployment, he carries deep faith that a more inspirational career is coming his way, and he opens himself up to every opportunity – creating the best possible scenario for gaining new, more fulfilling employment.
Tom, on the other hand, believes that while he didn’t like his job very much, at least it paid his bills, and he can’t conceive what else he could do for a living. He doubts he will get hired in his professional field, feels his unemployment checks will run out before he can secure new work, and other fear-based thoughts. Tom is stressed to the max.
Spend a moment in each man’s shows. Bob and Tom are in the same situation – unemployed and barely getting by financially on their unemployment checks – but Bob is going with the flow of life and trusting it, while Tom is resisting it, and feeding his fear-based thoughts.
Who do you think is experiencing more “stress”? And which man do you think is more likely to find (co-create) a new and inspiring job?
In reality, I understand that most of us spend our lives living somewhere between the inner worlds of Bob and Tom. I just use these two as examples of the extremes to which we can vacillate.
If you think about it, the concept of pressure is a really funny, mutable thing.
If someone puts physical pressure on us – shoves us – we may get really angry at them, and yet, if we pay for a massage, we may actually request that the masseuse put more literal pressure on us — and “go deeper.”
The key difference in these two situations is that in the shoving situation we feel like we have no control, so we resist, perhaps in an effort to gain some control. While in the massage situation, we are actually inviting the pressure in (even paying for it!).
Yoga teaches us that resistance to what is always causes suffering. Think about it. Resistance to what is IS suffering. If you are totally okay with what is happening in this moment, you are not suffering.
If I resist the pressure of a massage – tense up all my muscles – it’s not going to feel very good. But if I relax into it and go with it, I may even want the masseuse to go deeper.
Life is our masseuse. She finds our pressure points and pushes them (and she has a lot of assistants — the people who appear to be “pushing” us). Why does she do this? Because this is how we evolve. And growing is what we came here to do!
So… the big question for this week is: are you going to relax into Life’s “massage” and release the old gunk? Or resist Life and suffer?
Your choice. Always. I hope you go the happy way.