The truth is, yes, stress is optional. And I know this will push the buttons of more than a few people, especially the ones who are really in it right now, up to their eyeballs in overwhelm.
I sooooo get it! I would get so triggered and pissy when I felt stressed out and my hubby would remind me of this fact. Yes, the F bombs flew! And I also knew deep down that it was true, that I actually had choice in the matter.
So let’s dissect this down a bit. What is stress exactly?
Stress = pressure + worry (or some other negative emotion).
A lot of people actually believe that pressure alone is stress but it isn’t.
You can give two different people the same task to do in the same amount of time. Both have pressure to complete the task so that is the common denominator.
What is different is that person A may look at the task, breakdown the steps and just start. Person B could look at the task, breakdown the steps but also add a story about what if I don’t get it done? What are people going to think? What if I don’t get it done and I lose my job? They begin ruminating and going down the rabbit hole of all the worst case scenarios. They create a story that not getting the task completed in time means something bad about them. They both had the same pressure of the task but person A wasn’t stressed and person B was.
Now you may be thinking that person B doesn’t have a choice. That is just who they are, a worrier. But I beg to differ. Person B is not a worrier. That isn’t who they really are. They just have a learned behaviour pattern of worrying. They are choosing to worry, albeit subconsciously, as a result of a limiting belief and protective mechanism they took on as a child. In this case, the belief is “I’m not good enough” and the protective mechanism or behaviour is to worry.
So stress actually is a choice. We are choosing to worry or put undo pressure on ourselves. Now why on earth would anyone choose that? After all, it feels like crap and when escalated can feel like you may be having a heart attack. Who would choose that?
The majority of the time, it is not a conscious choice. We are only aware of 4% of our conscious thoughts. The rest of our thoughts and beliefs live in our subconscious minds where we are not aware of them and they are creating our realities. It is only when we become conscious of these subconscious thoughts that we have choice.
Awareness gives us choice which is exactly why I am talking about it today to start the contemplation of what beliefs/thoughts and habitual patterns are at the root of feeling stressed. Awareness is the first step. Then the unravelling and disengaging from these patterns can begin.
What I have come to know is that underlying worry and limiting beliefs is fear. If fear didn’t exist, we wouldn’t worry and we wouldn’t hold ourselves back in any way. Guess where a lot of our fears live? Yep, in our subconscious minds.
So what are you afraid of? And fear can be pretty sneaky and disguise itself in many ways so look closely. Fears can seem pretty darn powerful. When you are in the grip of fear, it feels really really real, even if you know better, even if it doesn’t make logical sense. And when we are stuck in fear, it often feels like there is no way out. But there is.
Let yourself feel it. Don’t ignore it. Don’t stuff it down. It doesn’t go away when you do that. It silently pulls your strings in the background. You aren’t free from it.
Acknowledge the fear, look it in the face, feel it and be with it. Don’t judge it or judge yourself for feeling it. Just experience the sensations of it and watch it. Don’t make it mean something. Just let it move through you. It is amazing how quickly it will move through you and dissipate when you don’t resist it or get in its way.
Once you are on the other side of it, you can look at it if you want and see that the fear isn’t real in the first place (False Experiences Appearing Real) or you can just get on with taking steps forward.
It is a simple process and yet not easy. We are taught to fear our fears, to avoid them at all costs. Don’t admit your fears or you are weak. And the biggest fear of all is, if I admit my fear and allow myself to feel it, that I won’t come out of it and I will be paralyzed, stuck. The truth is that never happens if you don’t resist it or get in its way. I have guided many people through this process because it can feel very unsafe and people often lose their way. This isn’t something you have to do alone. You are capable of it and you can but you don’t have to.
With the fear out of the way, there is no need for worry/stress, no need for our nervous systems to go into fight or flight. We can proceed in a calm, centred state where our brains work better and where solutions are discovered. It feels a lot better and is easier to move forward.
Fear is a really good distraction by our Egos from getting on with what we are here to do. We are here to be the gift that we are, to create and enjoy life. Life is about moving forward, not being stuck in fear.
Now you may be asking, can I feel the fear, not get rid of it and still move forward? Feel the fear and do it anyway? You bet and that’s what I have been playing with lately, expanding my capacity to be with the discomfort of fear and still do my thing. It definitely is a muscle that requires exercising and it is a faster way to move forward. You don’t even need to know what the fear is or where it came from. Knowing that gives the mind peace but it isn’t necessary. But I will tell you that it is uncomfortable and where I started first was allowing myself to fully feel fear first and then take steps once the fear dissipated. It wasn’t as quick but it felt better.
So both ways are absolutely possible and you get to choose. You do not have to be ruled by your fears and you do have the power to move forward inspite of them. As always, I am hear to be of assistance if this is something you desire support with.
So circling back to stress. Feeling stressed is indeed optional and you can choose to live in stress mode (survival mode) or to live free of fears/stress that hold you back. You get to choose. Ask for support and begin freeing yourself today.