Lately I’ve been attempting to talk to my clients about doing less. Ironically, I seem to be triggering the fight or flight reflex when I suggest resting or doing activities to calm their frazzled nerves. The more I learn about stress, the more certain I am that is the root of much of the pain and discomfort I see in my practice. Yet the mere mention of managing stress or making lifestyle changes to subvert inflammation (a symptom of stress) seems to create more of it!
The inner-detective in me is now on the job. Solving this mystery could benefit most of us. I don’t have the answers yet, but here are some of the questions I’m asking. I’m keeping the inquiry personal, because I can’t answer for anyone else. But I do believe it could be expanded to include any other curious seekers. After all, we share the same basic needs.
- What would happen if I did less and allowed myself to “just be” more often?
- Who would I be without my to-do list, my accomplishments, or my aspirations?
- Why am I so resistant to slowing down?
- What am I worried about feeling/sensing/thinking if I do slow down?
- What if I have created my circumstances by thinking that if I do more, I’m a better person?
- What if my constant striving has led to an unhealthy adrenaline-fueled lifestyle?
- What if my thinking created the lifestyle, which created the stress, that created the inflammation, that created the pain I experience on a daily basis?
- Why would I want to continue thinking in the same ways that lead to suffering?
- Why would I resist retraining my mind to think in newer, healthier ways that support a peaceful lifestyle with less stress?
- Am I willing to re-examine my values, thoughts, and lifestyle choices to support optimal health and well-being?
My preliminary conclusion is that I often feel stress because society expects me to behave in certain ways that are in conflict with my core values. While my ancestors were dependent on the approval of others for their survival; I am not. As I get clear about my truth, my unique path in this world, and my soul’s mission; I become painfully aware that catering to the status quo is not only interfering with my sense of self, it is making me ill. As I find the courage to make baby steps to follow my own heart and my own dreams, I feel a sense of empowerment and vitality that is motivating in and of itself.
When it seems like the whole world is swimming against the current, it’s scary to imagine what would happen if I just stop struggling and float with the current. It’s uncomfortable to imagine losing the companionship of all the familiar swimmers around me. It’s upsetting to imagine that I’ve been pushing so hard my entire life to go nowhere I want to go. But what if simply releasing this struggle and facing the discomfort, the unfamiliar, the change of direction is the answer I’ve been searching for but couldn’t see? What if I’m the one creating all the stress and pain in my life?