I genuinely like being busy. I like having things to do, places to be, and goals to achieve. It makes me feel good, positive, and in flow. Checking things off of my to-do list gives me almost as much pleasure as a Black Forest Cake. ALMOST! The thing is this: I have a difficult time telling where the line is when busyness turns into stress and overwhelm. For as long as I can remember this has been a real challenge for me. At first, I am cruising and all is good and then all of a sudden I am running around town like a chicken with its head cut off.
I gotta admit that this year has been a whole whirlwind of happenings already.
- My boyfriend and I moved to Brooklyn last Thursday,
- I am putting a lot of time into doing my back exercises regularly,
- I am working full force on developing some amazing workshops for 2013, and
- I am creating my completely new website that launches later in February (get excited- it’s gonna be awesome!).
When I got back from Germany, everything felt good, but the closer things got to our move, the more internally stressed I felt and the more my back started hurting again.
My inner stress level reached its peak the day before our move when I went to do my exercises. I arrived at the gym, changed into my work-out clothes, and headed to the bike to warm up. 5 minutes into my bike-ride and half-way through the magazine (I only look at the pictures) my body felt achy and every cell of me was yearning for rest. “Ok,” I said, “I know that my body has my best interest. Today I am just going to take it easy.” I ended my workout (something I rarely do), headed back into the changing rooms, and decided to sweat in the steam room instead. Once I laid down, I was suddenly overcome by a wave of stress and not so kind self-talk. Now, I have done a lot of work with negative self-talk, so I was able to calm that down pretty quickly. However, that nasty inner stress did not seem to dissipate. Do you know that feeling when you feel so icky that if you could you would slip out of your own skin?
I had recently picked up Gabrielle Bernstein’s book Spirit Junky again (if you are into manifestation and growing spiritually, you have got to get yourself a copy of any of Gabby’s three books. She is AMAZING!). While I was lying in the steam room, Gabby’s words suddenly found their way into my hazy, steamy, stressed out mind:
“It’s important to realize that the loving guidance has always been inside you, so you don’t have to fight to find it. You just need to slow down and surrender.”
Breath. Slow down. Surrender. Surrender. Surrender. By the time I left the gym, I felt so much lighter and at ease with my life.
This experience was so simple and yet so powerful. As I reflected on what had happened later that evening, I came to understand that the reason my busyness had turned into stress was because I was trying to forcefully push things forward. When I am busy in a positive sense I am simply navigating; I am floating and am reacting with flexibility; I am in close communication with my environmental energies. When I get stressed, on the other hand, it’s because I am trying too hard; I am driven by my ego-voice that wants to force things to happen on MY time (which is usually NOW); I am rigid in my approach and expectations of myself and others. By surrendering I let go of force and instead invited flexibility.
Force gives you tunnel-vision because you make yourself blind to all other options. Flexibility allows you to navigate according to what’s best in any given moment.
Guess what happened the very next day, the day we moved and were carrying boxes all over the place: My back was almost completely free of pain and I had all these amazing ideas about my workshops and new website.
Once I surrendered to all the things that were happening and let go off trying to force everything, things were able to fall into place on their own. My energy was aligned with my environment. We were pulling on the same string.
So here is my challenge for you: Next time you feel overwhelmed and totally stressed out, take 15-20 minutes and sit or lie down comfortably. Say something like this to yourself:
“I know that good things are meant to happen to me. I will let go of forcing these situations. Instead I will surrender and get back into flow with my environment. That’s when the most amazing things can unfold on their own.”
Do you struggle with overwhelm and feeling stressed out a lot? Perhaps you too have a hard time telling where busyness ends and stress begins? In the comments below, I would love to hear your story and how you deal with your stress.