Some time ago I was struggling with a variety of difficult circumstances in my life. My fight response had kicked in and so when hard moments appeared in my day, I began a vicious campaign of “forcing” badness out of my life. I wanted to become the best person I could be. I didn’t realize it, but I subconsciously had chosen that in order to do that I would even make myself the enemy in the process if it was necessary.
It didn’t take long before I began to realize that this was a common issue – and it wasn’t doing me any favors emotionally or mentally. The behavior I was committing to was like a car with its hood pointed towards the goal but permanently stuck in reverse. No matter how many times I slammed on the gas or the break, I only got further away from success. Lynn Lyons, a psychotherapist, explained similar behaviors from High school students in the following way: “If anxiety could talk, it would say, ‘You know, let’s get out of here. We don’t have to do this…but in order to retrain the brain, in order to create that message that says that even though I’m uncomfortable I can do this, we need to stop treating [ourselves] like [we] are so frail, like [we] can’t handle things.” This can be categorized as something that even those of us who do not suffer from anxiety tend to participate in: avoidance behavior. We believe avoiding fears and stress equals conquering them. But it doesn’t.
The answer to overcoming stress can be found in a lot of ancient martial arts practices, along with frequent therapeutic techniques. The answer is not avoidance – but acceptance. Accepting things in your life actually removes the potency from stressful circumstances. Although I felt this was a little too: “yin-yang” or mystical for me, I tried it anyway.
As it turns out – it works.
Accepting the difficult things as a necessary part of my life disarmed those trials and challenges from the weapons they used against me. It was a beautiful moment that took a lot of meditation and practice, but it worked.
Acceptance doesn’t mean embracing. Accepting doesn’t mean diving into your harder times of life and smothering yourself with your own self-doubts and fears. Instead, it is acknowledging it and then letting it go its own way – separate from yourself. Don’t linger after disarming your fears long enough to give their weapons back. Instead, focus on your ability to handle problems and then give yourself evidence of when you have done that before. This will boost confidence and self-esteem as well as reveal true self-worth.
Participating in meditation, yoga and journal writing are great ways to allow yourself to accept difficult circumstances and then let them go. Apps like Head Space and Calm can be a beneficial starting place. Find ways that help you accept and feel calm in your life. Even taking a few minutes each day can make the difference between a life of stress, frustration, and anxiety to one of peace, contentment, and joy.
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