I love this quote from author Byron Katie, as it reminds us that the roots of stress may run deeply into the very core of our being.
Responding effectively to stress involves more than simply learning a relaxation technique. In fact, you may never consistently practice what you’ve learned if stress has intertwined itself fully into your everyday persona. You may resist letting go of all the tension for fear of facing yourself - blemishes included.
What deeply held beliefs have you caught in the web of stress?
- Low Self-Esteem?
- The need to be right?
- A lack of deep self-acceptance?
- The tendency to say “yes” when you want to say “no.”
- A belief you’re unlovable?
- The desire for external validation?
- Fear of the unknown?
- Arrogance or pride that forces you to do more, be more, acquire more?
- Comparing yourself to others?
- Wanting what others have whether it be material items, status, or success?
Take a minute now and jot down whatever immediately comes to mind. Then give this question a few days on the back burner to see what else emerges. Your final list will represent personal stepping stones to a more content and spacious way of being.
Stress: An Important Warning Sign
As Byron Katie suggests, stress can serve as an important warning sign. The sooner you pay attention, the better off you'll be. When stress starts to mount, take a moment and ask yourself:
“What’s not true for me right now?”
Then consider what and how you can adjust. For example:
- Do you need to counter a false belief with a positive affirmation?
- Do you need to change a behavior? For example, do you need to pull back from doing too much?
- Would it help to invoke the relaxation response by engaging in a stress reduction technique?
- Do you need more quiet time?
Connect with Your Natural Awareness
At the same time, let’s try to hold Katie's question lightly. Let’s not become too rigid about everything fitting neatly into a preconceived happiness package that is likely, one day, to fall apart at the seams.
After all, who is this ‘self’ that we are to be true to? Is it merely our likes and dislikes? Our transitory thoughts, emotions, and sensations? Is it the projections of our mind or is there a more enduring essence of mind?
If you allow your mind to settle and remain quiet for a while, you’ll find there's a natural awareness that lies behind your ever-changing mind states. This is your true nature, which would like to to guide you toward wholeness, goodness, and truth. This inner wisdom can discern between what is beneficial for your well-being and what is harmful. But this discernment is much larger than our ego-based likes and dislikes, which keep us cycling in tension and discontentment.
Take some time to be quiet, open, and receptive. Allow your ordinary mind to settle so deeper insight and wisdom can arise.
Like a seed that first becomes a shoot and then takes years to become a fully grown, fruit-bearing tree, it’s not possible to be true to yourself 100% of the time. Life is the practice of learning to align with your true self.
Self-acceptance will help you relax in the gap between who you are now and who you would like to become. You can decide to enjoy the journey and not be overwrought by any of the patterns you've noted in the above exercise. No one is perfect! We’re all in the process of becoming unstuck.
When you fully accept yourself and align with your basic goodness and natural awareness rather than thoughts, emotions, and sensations, life is brighter and stress naturally begins to dissolve.
In my Living with Ease, The Mindful Way to Dissolve Stress e-course, we explore these deeper patterns while also learning effective mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques. You can begin the journey whenever your wish as this is a well-structured self-study course.
Are you attached to something that's not true for you? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Thank you for your presence, I know your time is precious! Don’t forget to sign up for my e-letter and get access to all the free self-development resources (e-books, mini-guides + worksheets) in the Always Well Within Library. May you be happy, well, and safe – always. With love, Sandra