Disclaimer: there are no instagram-level, quick-fix solutions to curing stress. So this newsletter is coming at you in two parts, and requires more than just a quick read. Here we go!
Our thoughts are the biggest generator of stress. We tend to say, “My job… my spouse… my kids… my boss… is stressing me out.” When it is actually your thoughts about all of those things that create feelings, which when resisted, create stress. This might seem like a small distinction, but it has HUGE implications. It is all of the future forecasting, imagined regrets, the what-ifs, the who might be thinking what, that are the biggest culprits NOT the people, places, and things.
This is good news because it is MUCH easier to change your thinking than it is to change the circumstance that you’re in or another’s behavior. Don’t get too excited, we said easier, not easy; our thinking can be a shifty devil!
Here’s a good way to understand how our thinking works: You know, when you’re trying to think of a famous person’s name and you just can’t think of it, you focus and try really hard to get it. You might even go through the whole alphabet and you still can’t think of it! And then finally, you stop thinking about it. You move on to something else...and then all of a sudden BAM, the name comes to you!
When you relax your effort and stop struggling to try and get it, the answer comes to you. Our minds are like Chinese finger traps. The more you yank, the firmer the hold. For example, if we tell you not to think of a cat...well, you tell us what you just thought of. If you want to change your thinking, you can’t come at it head on.
So, how, oh how do we change our thinking? How do we control our thoughts? And the answer is…...you don’t! It is the effort to control your thoughts that is causing them to play on repeat with increasing volume and frequency. Just like when you’re trying not to think of a cat, the more you strain to not think of it, the more you think of it.
If you can’t change it by brute force, what options are left? Let it be. Probably the most frustrating answer to hear (you can blame Paul McCartney). His whispered words of wisdom are certainly not easy words of wisdom. Letting our thoughts be is an enormous challenge. We are highly reactive to what we think and we can make some pretty bad decisions because of this. Not to mention we are quite good at creating our own little torture chambers just in our minds!
We’re going to leave you with a bit of a cliff hanger today, because “let it be” is enough to chew on for one week. Next week we will answer the question: Why is it so hard to objectively observe our thoughts? And, how learning to do this can transform your life.
To getting at the root of the problem!