Choosing Joy & Letting Go of Stress
Via | Sid Jordan | September 22, 2015
Things To Think – Robert Bly
When someone knocks on the door, think that he is about to give you something large: tell you you’re forgiven,
Or that it’s not necessary to work all the time, or that it’s been decided that if you lie down no one will die.
Part I: Slow Down, One Step at a Time, Keep At It
The temperature starts to fall and the work demands rise in September when school resumes and summer vacations end. Everyone feels the pull of ‘back to work’ at home and the office. For many working at home these days the boundaries between the office and home fades and there is no escaping getting our jobs done. The pressure to get work done is internal and external, exemplified by the falling leaves in our yard and our feeling of responsibility to rake the leaves. How we perceive these perennial tasks can define them as stressful or not. If we see the task as an opportunity to ‘enjoy’ the work of putting things in order that creates a different internal demand than seeing the task as a ‘burden’ on our time and effort. The point of view of “before enlightenment chopping wood and totting water and after enlightenment chopping wood and totting water” suggest that happiness can be found by joyfully embracing many of the activities in our lives.
To develop this more ‘enlightened’ stance a dear friend once said to me, “slow down, take one step at a time and keep at it”. This slower more mindful movement of our body and mind gives us a chance to experience ourselves in the moment. This is an opportunity to realize the wonder and awe of being alive. John Cabot Zinn has noted that there are more things going well than going wrongly with our selves and the world; of course disregarding the evening news on television. The fact that we are able to rake the leaves, water the plants, make lunch for the kids, complete this blog, and drive the children to school could be joyfully celebrated, among the other 10,000 things life ask of us. I know some of you reading this article are saying “that is easy for you to say but if you could experience what I am going through you wouldn’t have such a rose colored view of reality”.
I would suggest to everyone feeling overly stressed at this moment by life’s demands to ‘slow down’ and choose to share your story with someone that you feel will listen and empathize with your dilemma. The social support of another person who is able to be personally present and reflect having heard you is an important source of relief. Internalizing the stress and the harmful emotional impact of isolating ourselves from others compounds the stress. It is also important to acknowledge that others truly listening does help but that no one else can be expected to save us from our own dilemmas. Use the help of social support to mobilize yourself for taking rational actions to resolve your stress. Define each step or action required to reduce each element of the task rather than overwhelming yourself by looking at ‘everything’. This ‘one step at a time’ is key to mindfully making progress by breaking down in a methodical and rational manner the elements of your situation that require individual attention and actions. Explore the pros and cons of taking each individual action with consideration of its potential benefit to you and others. This is the process of discernment using you head and heart to make good choices. Once you have shared your issues with others, carefully studied the individual actions to be taken and connected with your heart-felt ‘intuition’ about choices that best serve you and others, act accordingly. If it is a good idea do it immediately. If doubts linger commit to more study until your heart says, ‘Yes’.
Ultimately successful reduction of stress is dependent on determination and persistence to apply what you have deemed the right thing to do by doing it. If resolution doesn’t come immediately remain resolved to ‘keep at it’. This may require more individual study that could involve discussing your efforts with others who universally share similar issues or seeking coaching from wise counsel in your community that empowers you to find your own solutions rather than over steering you. When seeking help we may also be helping others who have similar issues. Just as we don’t want to do for others what they can do for themselves we want social support that empowers us to solve our own problems. Rather than co-dependence we can best be served through balanced coordinated cooperation with others. With persistence and a balance between positive social support and individual effort we can surmount the stresses in our lives. So remember to ‘slow down, one step at a time and keep at it’. It is a choice to replace stress with joy.
The next installment on stress reduction will focus on the use of somatic yoga education to accompany the above suggestions for making use of social support and benevolent choices.
Sid Jordan has combined a career as a licensed clinical psychologist and yoga teacher since 1971. As a clinical psychologist, he taught psychotherapy and community psychology in the Department of Psychiatry and served as director of the Mental Health, Alcohol and Drug Services in a community center at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, SC over a period of 25 years. Since 1994, he has been developing a green intentional community north of Asheville on 140 acres of land.
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