In the frantic rush of our daily lives, stress seems to be our steady companion. The demands of everyday life can be, at times, stifling and end up making us feel overwhelmed. I can leave us feeling less than what we are, what we can be and lead to anxiety, fear and irritation. None if this is new to us and yet many of us probably are not sure how to cope with such feelings of animosity that disturb our balance and makes us feel overburdened. It makes us feel that we are less than everyone around us, and while everyone got a better deal we got handed the worst possible cards. We end up being pissed at life in general!
I have been feeling this way for some time now and I really cannot pinpoint the reason(s). And it has been difficult to feel happy at times, I will admit. I have been brooding over all the things that did not go the way I had planned and focusing on all that went wrong. This has been affecting my loved ones and has made me feel far worse than how I already was. And with little want for self compassion and self care, I realized that I had forgotten how to do that.
As a stay-at-home mom of a three and a half year old and as someone who is expecting another child in a few months, life should be awesome. And it is. But it bothers me when I realize that I do not feel particularly happy and at peace. I find myself worrying all the time about almost everything, things over which I have no control whatsoever; my mind is constantly cluttered with unnecessary thoughts and self criticism; indecision and confusion reign supreme! And then one evening the futility of such self deprecation struck me out of the blue and I knew I had to put a bit of an effort to alleviate the unhappy feelings and thoughts, instead of moping around.
I went online and read a few thought provoking yet simple articles on how to deal with everyday stress; about inner peace, happiness and the power of positive thinking. They were easy reads but difficult to practice. I failed quite a few times trying to follow what had been suggested and would often find myself back to being in a worried state unnecessarily. I then realized that it needed a conscious effort to channel my inner strength to help me take baby steps towards attaining a calmer frame of mind and letting go of things that were constricting and turbulent.
I am listing some of the things that I compiled from the articles that I read and from personal experience and I feel I have slowly started the process of learning and unlearning, of trying to find a balance between letting go and holding on, of trying to free my mind of all that is clouding my positive thinking, of trying to find some peace in this crazy conundrum called life:)
- To free the mind from worries over which I have no control (I know it is easy to say but a thousand times harder to practice and for someone who tends to take on other people’s worries too, I know just how exhausting that can be!). It asks for meticulousness and can feel unnatural but is rewarding from the very beginning. I was worried if this would make me self centered and less empathetic, but has been quite the opposite, in fact:) Once I started practicing consciousness, as I like to call it, the feeling was liberating and clarifying. It was calming. Because my mind was free from petty clutters, I was being less judgmental and connecting with people on a deeper level.
- As a person who likes to plan things as minutely as possible and feel the need to micromanage things, I learned I needed to let go of this urge. Every thing did not need to be micromanaged and it was okay to not over think things!
- I need to stop trying to be perfect and instead embrace my imperfections. I am what I am. I can always strive to be better but not at the expense of self criticism at all times. It’s a fact that no one is perfect and that’s fine:)
- I am aware of the fact that I always seek everyone’s approval. It is so harmful on so many levels that I cannot even begin to explain! From personal experience, I can say this much that seeking everyone’s approval does no good and can lead to more self loathing. So, Stop!
- I need to make some time everyday, for just myself. It sounds so simple and something that everyone probably does and one might think that who needs to be told this! But i know many people who need to be reminded that self compassion is essential to self growth and development and for us to function to the best of our capabilities.
- I need to change some of the ways I think and only then will I take a step towards changing the way I lead my life. And that includes all of the above:)
I read somewhere that instead of living habitually, we should start living mindfully (I think these are the words of the Buddha) and that’s what all my steps have been helping me with. The process has just begun and I have a long way to go but I know how to continue. There are times when I feel I have fallen off the wagon but I know how to get back on and live more holistically. I am a tad bit better at handling anger and fear and try not to let myself stress out easily. I am enjoying the simple things more, can recognize the me that I have always known- ‘the optimistic and resilient me’ that had temporarily gone into hiding- and I am glad she is back:)