Next time you’re feeling stressed out, we challenge you to stop.
Stop for a minute without solving the problem or thinking about who to blame or how much of a victim you are. Instead, think about the thoughts and feelings that are triggering your suffering. What’s at the root of all your stress?
Suppose you’re dropping your son off at school and right as you’re pulling up the school driveway he decides he doesn’t want to go to class. Logically, he spills his grape juice all over himself, you and your cloth interior. This causes you to be half an hour late for work, in addition to having a big purple blotch on your shirt that your coworkers can’t stop staring at. Awkward.
Your child, the traffic, the juice: these are not causing your real problems.
What’s really causing you to be stressed out and miserable is that you’re getting caught up in the story.
Your inner dialogue might go something like this: “If I’m stuck in traffic I’ll end up being late and my boss will think I don’t care about my work and then with the upcoming layoffs they’ll end up cutting me loose and if I lose my job I’ll lose my house…”
Run-on sentences in the mind are par for the course when we panic. Our ego wants to keep us dependent on it so it weaves these elaborate stories that we can identify with so closely. As we identify with our story we build our attachment to it, which further bolsters the ego.
How can we start to distinguish between our thoughts surrounding the event and the event itself?
These 3 ways:
1. Only point a finger at yourself
We’re conditioned by society to think that we have so much control over our life and to point fingers when things don’t turn out as we hoped. But the exact opposite is true.
We cannot control other people (or the outcome of our actions) and everyone has to take ownership over their own response to events. It’s no wonder we get so frazzled by stress. We keep trying to push buttons that don’t work. And we have a whole keyboard of buttons that we’re obsessed with pushing.
2. You are the director of your story
Though we are indeed an actor in our story, we are also the director of our story since everything that plays through our mind is based on our perception of it. Whether it’s our life story or our many day-to-day mini-dramas, rather than reacting negatively or rather than even trying to find the silver lining in every situation, we can learn how to solve any problematic situation.
3. The shortcut is to laugh
We can laugh at anything that happens to us because we know that it’s just the story that we’re laughing at. We’re not laughing at the other actors involved in the event or the event itself. It’s just the script we’ve written in our minds that is the joke. It’s a joke simply because our mind created it so we can just as easily destroy it. This we have control over.
It’s easy to know what to do, but the tricky part is to remember what to do. If we often forget, the story can perpetuate into one long, continuous stream with no intermissions and no chances to break free. This causes your mind to get fully absorbed into its reality.
It’s a good thing we have a lot of opportunities to practice. Each and every time we find ourselves being caught in our story, see it as an opportunity to laugh.
The next time you’re feeling stressed, take a step back and realize that you are the author of this script. And when you think about just how silly that story is, it’s hard not to laugh.
Dramatic events spun directly into comedy gold. You have the power.