“The greatest weapon against stress is the ability to choose one thought over another.” ~ William James
I saw this quote on facebook the other day and man, did it resonate with me. Stress should be my middle name these days! When things are changing, even if they are changing for the better, there is still a certain level of stress involved. I mean, it’s change, right? There’s always an adjustment period, where you’re stuck in the “unsure.” Is this going to work out? How is this going to work out? How comfortable do I feel here? How do I move past this? How do I accept that this is better for me, or will all work out in the long run? (We’re slipping back into self doubt mode here.)
Change is Stressful. During these times of change, it is nothing but inevitable that insecurities begin to arise. You start comparing yourself to everything – people who you don’t know or who don’t matter; the ideal version of yourself; an unrealistic idea of your life as perfection. All the sudden you “know” what everyone is thinking about you (you’re usually way off base here, fyi), and the most ridiculous things begin to get under your skin. You can’t let go of anything even mildly negative, things that literally do not matter begin to become an obsession. And then, it happens: You are annoying the living daylights out of yourself.
We all annoy ourselves. You come to a point where you are driving yourself nuts. There’s constant fear, comparison, insecurity. And sometimes you can see yourself from a distance being a total nutcase about NOTHING. Simply because you’re immersed in a change state. Something in your life is in flux, therefore you self-sabatoge and now EVERYTHING MUST BE IN FLUX. And as you sit, watching yourself question things that are non-existent, you want to grab yourself by the shoulders and scream “STOP BOTHERING ME. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD JUST LEAVE YOURSELF ALONE!”
Choose wisely. The other option is to choose your thoughts. You’re stressed, you’re in the thick of it, it’s a downward spiral. I get it, I’m living it right now. There’s a reason they suggest you only undergo one major life change at a time (aka: house, car, relationship, job). The reason is, each of those comes with a certain amount of fear. Change is scary! The more shifting, the more room for self destruction. But you have an option to choose here. You are in charge of your own mind – yes, I know this is often difficult to believe, but CHOOSE TO BELIEVE IT!
Take positive action. Here’s an idea, one I’m going to take for myself: When stressed, doubtful, irritated and you just can’t let go of something – write down your alternatives. If you don’t have an alternative way to act on the issue, then approach different ways to think about it. For example, if you’re convinced everyone is comparing you to someone unjustifiably, or that you were better off at that familiar dead end job etc write down your evidence. I bet on paper, read back to you, it all sounds pretty weak. Despite how all encompassing stressful thinking can be, we do actually have a choice. We can choose to stop thinking a certain way.
But alas, it is not easy. If it were easy, then everyone would do it. De-stressing and letting go takes practice, and yes – that’s as annoying to realize as it was to say aloud.
What are your ways to let go of something, or manage stress?