We have plenty of things to keep us busy. We have responsibilities around work, school, family, and finances among many other things. For most people there is a lot to do, and then we step in and add our thoughts about the consequences of not getting it all done. We weigh ourselves down with the expectations of ourselves and others. There are two separate aspects to living life. There is performing all the activities that need to be done, then there is all of the added pressure of our thoughts about the activity.
What if you could take half the pressure off yourself, and only focus on the activities without adding the additional pressure of thinking about consequences, and expectations? We have the activity and then we have our thoughts and beliefs about these activities. These thoughts influence how well we perform the activities. If you put a board on the floor and attempt to walk across it, this is easy for most people. Take that same board and lay it across the distance between two tall buildings and then walk across it. It is the same task, but the stakes are much higher if you fail to stay on the board while walking between buildings. The location of the board is very similar to your thoughts about the task you are about to take on. Assuming the board doesn’t flex, and there is no wind, it is the same task. The great thing about most of our activities is that if we mess up, nothing really bad happens.
Famous author Mark Twain said “I’ve lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.” In this quote he was pointing to the fact that it is our worries about what might happen that is the source of many of our perceived problems. If we really stop and think about it, this is an undeniable truth. So what do you do about it?
Part of a mindfulness journey is learning to live in the present moment, and just acknowledging these worries without reacting to them in any way. I remember when I was learning to just have these thoughts, acknowledge them and not react to them. I was afraid that if I quit reacting to these thoughts, that my world would fall apart and nothing would get done. I took a leap of faith and just quit reacting. Exactly the opposite of my worry happened. I became a lot more effective, and got more done without all the stress. I also found that I naturally started taking time to think through what had to be done, but then once I started doing it, I focused all of my attention on the task. I was no longer worrying about consequences.
It is almost as if life just started unfolding. I am not ready to give an explanation of why or how this happens, I just know that life is much easier and more gets done when you stop worrying about the future or reliving the past. Learning to let these thoughts pass is important. Please reach out here if you want to know more about how to let go of your stressors. There are lots of free resources out there to help you with this.