Do you sometimes feel like you have everything in control, everything on the "right" path (whatever right means) and within a flash it seems that your reality is falling onto your shoulders, an impact so heavy you wonder if others around (who are faking it till their making it) feel the same?
Don't let anyone tell you feeling this way is not normal, because it definitely is normal at times and the more we don't talk to others about it, the more alone we feel.
If you live in a big city where employment is extremely competitive, it's nearly impossible to become a home owner, homeless communities are growing into tent villages on roadsides, and you have to manage daily interactions with challenging people all while raising a family...then you might feel overwhelmed at times. I want to make it clear how grateful I am for the things I currently have however every human being can and does lose sight of the bigger picture, one where the current moment matters most and where everything else truly is insignificant. We as people can only work so hard and spread ourselves so thin before we feel robbed and stripped of what Life is really about. What do you really live for in Life?
Recently, I have felt the pressures from multiple directions: trying to live up to be the best mother, wife, daughter, human, and trying to excel in my career. That is a lot to take on at once especially if you hold yourself to the highest of standards.
Funny thing is...we actually do not have as much control as we think. The true reality, not our perceived reality, always comes knocking, yet we never seem ready for it. Think of something recently that has happened to you outside of your control, something that makes you want to scream at the top of your lungs or just sit and cry or something that your mind obsesses over, almost to a point of insanity. You're not alone.
So what can you do when you feel such overwhelming pressures, literally a weight around you barely hanging on by a thread before it releases right on top of you?
1. Practice the act of not taking it personally. I am no master of this but I'd like to think I have made progress in my life. It is by far one of the hardest things to learn to do but take the leap and learn. You will fail at times but the successes are peace for your soul. There is plenty of literature out there to learn this method. I look to Pema Chodron, Eckhart Tolle, His Holiness the Dalai Lama - just to name a few.
2. Are certain people in your life driving you crazy? We have all been there but take a step back for a moment and really stop to think, why is it bothering you? Ultimately, does that person's behavior really matter? Everyone has their own agenda and they will do and act however they need to keep that agenda moving along. It has nothing to do with you and in the grand scheme it doesn't matter. If you really want to make a change to your situation, change your actions, reactions, perspective, and make the effort to change the environment you are in if that's what you need.
3. Face the discomfort head on. This is another method, very unusual and a nontraditional teaching for many people. The American Tibetan Buddhist, Pema Chodron, teaches this method in many of her texts and conferences. It is also not easy but a great way to change your perspective on dealing with uncomfortable situations that you'd usually run from. One of the best books I have read by Pema Chodron is When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times. This book taught me ways to see the world that I would not have discovered on my own and it's the type of book you can read again and again. When I finished this book, my first thought was, "I will continue to always be reading this book, once I finish, I will start again, wash, rinse, repeat."
4. Meditate. I talk about meditation in many of my blogs because it does work. It works the way exercising your body works or practicing a skill that leads to expertise. It takes some time and it absolutely takes consistency. It's just as important as physical exercise and neuroscientists are here to tell you that and to prove it. There are different forms of meditation. You can sit alone for 15 minutes and meditate and you can meditate while doing what you would consider to be meaningless tasks, like folding the laundry, washing the dishes, brushing your teeth, and sitting in traffic. The racing mind does not help to lift us up. Learn to slow it down and you will find yourself more relaxed and more carefree when facing stressful situations.
5. Talk to your loved ones. It's great to talk to someone you trust because they can help to shine a different light on the situation. Sometimes we just need affirmation that we are good enough and that's okay. So many people live their lives acting like they are the best but most people are making their way around just like you and me. So don't forget to reach out for that human connection because it works wonders.
I lose sight ever so often, in the grind of Silicon Valley, the competitive nature of work, attempting to be the best mother to my kids and a phenomenal wife, I lose sight. You must ask yourself, is the grind worth it? There are always alternatives, there are other places to see and live, new hobbies to learn, values to teach our kids, and most important - to simply live Life. But if we are too stressed out and feeling down from the grind, then we are hardly living.
Check out my other related blog posts:
When Life's Turmoil Leads You Off the Path
Learn How to Forgive
How to Handle Work Stress
Until next time,
My Mantra: Strive to be the best me and improve a little every day. Be compassionate, especially to those who may not practice it. Continue to learn and love. Take a moment multiple times each day to breathe. Forgive myself and forgive others. Read books. Live what I preach. Accept others. And above all, laugh every single day.