Reactions and habits are such tricky things.
You’re sailing along and all of sudden, “boof!”; you find yourself outraged or upset or frustrated or worried.
That familiar feeling in the pit of your stomach or in your jaw is already making you more and more tense…
What to do?
Whether you experience peace or stress is down to your choice.
I know it doesn’t feel like this, but peace or pain is down to you.
Which is good news!
Peace/suffering is never about the events, situations or people, but how you choose to respond to these things.
You can’t always change the thing, but you can change your reaction.
Good news huh?
Perhaps you may agree with this by principle, and I do hope you are inspired that life can become fully your choice, BUT by crikey —even if you know this, it seems freedom of choice is hard to come by, isn’t it?
What do I mean by freedom of choice is hard to come by?
It’s not exactly “hard,” in fact the opposite, but let me tell you what I mean:
Habits, those pesky habits of reacting and being triggered, and stressing and being negative, my oh my, aren’t they a little tenacious?
They pop up here and there and everywhere… and especially when you’re exhausted and/or under pressure.
I’m getting ready the Spanish translation of my book and the timeline is short. I really want to get it done and so getting a little het up the other morning in that pressure.
All self-induced, of course, though I could easily point the finger and blame someone else and say they are the source of all my stress. I’m so grateful for a wife with a calm head and an excellent sense of perspective to set me back on track.
Therefore it isn’t so much that the choice for peace is hard, it’s just that you have to constantly make it. You have to be alert to, and prioritise, your choice, because your habits of reaction and triggering will take it away, quick as a blink, if you take your eye off the ball.
So what to do?
In my explorations of finding freedom of choice, this is what I’ve found works.
Practice while the going is good so you can sail through the tough times. Regular practice makes you like teflon. What do you practice? Being cool and calm. Notice stress building, don’t let it explode when there’s nothing you can do, instead be as present as possible. Learn the Bright Path Ishayas’ Ascension meditation. It’s worth its weight in gold.
2. Small steps:
Make this moment the only important moment. You may have just forgotten, maybe you exploded spectacularly, but what can you do now? Right here, right now, what can you choose to put your attention on?
3. Take responsibility:
It’s not their fault. Assume responsibility. You are the one losing it. What can you do? If it IS their fault, there’s nothing you can do, right? Be responsible for your reactions (see 1. Practice)
4. Get perspective:
a) what is the most important thing to you, really? You don’t want to be stressed and frazzled and snappy. You don’t.
b) You want to do your best, you do, as a perfectionist I get that. However, truly, if you try magnificently and fail, what is the worst that can happen? Really? You let some people down, maybe. But I bet if you stopped being stressed you’ll start being so much clearer and more productive.
Take a step back. Plan. Prioritise. Do it.
5. Talk it through:
Talking always helps get perspective. Without fail. Maybe that’s to a neutral party, maybe you’ll need to explain to people the why it’s so important to you. Perhaps they just don’t know or you haven’t been clear enough.
6. Prioritise your peace
It’s not an either/or situation. You can have total calm and be charging ahead towards your goals … in fact, you need calm to do that.
That’s about me
I’m sure there’s some more, but all I know is don’t give into stress. It’s not worth it. It doesn’t make you any friends. It doesn’t give you anything, and it takes so much away. Stress just isn’t a great strategy for getting stuff done.
Inner peace, on the other hand, means so much can come your way, without pushing and fighting and being grumpy about it all.
And doing that takes intention and practice. It’s simple, but you gotta do it.