Today's challenge is one that is extremely important to me and has helped me possibly more than any other single change I've made. Over the years I have learned, to a very large extent, how to let go. Now, don't get me wrong, this doesn't mean that I always do, it just means that I know the steps for letting go and I'm always actively working to achieve it in various areas of my life. I wrote a post about one of my experiences with letting go a year or two ago: Letting Go.
Let me start by saying, stress is inevitable. Bad things are going to happen and there is no way around it. However, we often invite stress into our lives that needn't be there and the more stress we have the less energetic and in control we are in ALL areas of our lives. Here's a few of my own "for example"'s:
- I stopped watching the news. I used to watch a lot of news, especially after 9/11. I started to notice that I would feel anxiety before I even turned the t.v. on. I would go on political rants and get into unpleasant debates with people. In addition, I would watch a lot of real life murder mystery shows like "Snapped". After time I realize that these didn't just stress me out, they depressed me. I took it a step further actually and stopped watching basically all t.v. but that's another challenge altogether. Now I'm on a semi-permanent news fast. I hear about the most important things things from clients/gym members as well as family and friends (although, they mostly don't talk about it with me because they know my stance on it). Some people say this is hiding my head in the sand. I don't agree at all. Knowing all the details of why we might go to war or about how some guy dismembered his wife is not going to make me a more highly functioning American/world citizen. But NOT knowing these details makes me a happier, more loving, more forgiving person which DOES make me a better person. I'm very much of the mind "think globally, act locally." That's why, if I AM going to learn about current events, it's going to be things like what products contain GMO's and which companies support Monsanto or which super centers sell products obtained in any sort of immoral capacity (unfair trade, slave wages, etc.). THESE are the things that light me up and energize me because these are definitely the things I feel I have a shred of control over (supporting local farms, buying organic, fair trade, revealing unhealthy practices of food producers to friends/family/blog followers/clients), opposed to a war that I don't have very much of a say so in. If nothing else I can help create a better local environment for those who are trying to stop a war, make a political change, etc. I'm not suggesting that what I do is the right thing for everyone. What I AM suggesting is that we all choose something we are passionate about that will make us feel positive and hopeful about ourselves and the world around us.
- I stopped asking about the latest gossip. There have been times in my life where someone I wasn't directly related to was behaving in a manner that affected a person/people who I was directly related to. It bothered me very much and would consume my thoughts, sometimes filling my heart with such unbelievable anger that I would want to seek out revenge. One of these times was quite a few years ago and it impacted my entire family on some level or another. However, it seemed to anger me more than even the people it most directly affected. So I finally asked my family to stop sharing the details with me unless it was something horrible/legal that happened or if they needed someone to talk to. This was hard for me, the not knowing, because it made me feel out of control. However, I quickly realized that knowing the details ALSO made me feel out of control because there was nothing I could do about it. And on top of that, I felt such anger when I knew. So I might as well pick not knowing. This is around the time in my life (my late 20's) when I really started to turn my attitude around in a lot of ways and I'm convinced this decision helped me very much. Likewise, a similar situation happened in the very recent past. However, I've once again decided to remove myself from knowing the details. While I'm always available as a "shoulder" if someone needed to talk, me knowing every ugly thing that transpires does nothing for my mental well being and doesn't help the person who is being directly affected. Not knowing, on the other hand, is so liberating! And I'm a happier, more loving person so I can offer everyone in my life way more love and support than when I'm hung up on details that I can't control.
Other miscellaneous things I do to reduce/avoid stress:
- Try to always leave on time so I don't get road rage every time someone goes 2 miles under the speed limit.
- Never let my laundry pile up! This one is a big one for me. I used to let it get out of control and it was a big pile of energy sucking stress. Now I combine a LOT more colors than I used to (and everything turns out just fine!) and don't let myself accumulate more than two loads at a time.
- I try to make my bed every morning!!! "Messy bed, messy head!"
- I try to never say or do anything that will cause me stress later. These include argumentative responses to friends' posts on Facebook, badmouthing someone behind their back, telling lies, etc. Anything that I could foresee coming back to "bite me in the rear" I just don't do!
I will add that I am SOOOO not perfect at letting things go. I am actually the queen of dwelling on things. But, all the more reason, I try to avoid it ever needing to get to a point where I need to dwell on it. When there's a looming deadline, I just do it. I'm not nearly the procrastinator I used to be.
So what stress can you let go of today? It's back to what we've discussed in a previous challenge. What do you have control over?