I was asked the other day what I do to de-stress. On the face of it this seems a perfectly reasonable question. Everyone gets stressed…and therefore everyone needs to do something to de-stress, don’t they?
When I was asked this I was slightly stumped because I don’t do anything to de-stress. Sure, I train at the gym, I play guitar in a rock band, I hang out with friends, and I have a ton of fun with my wife and daughters. But I don’t do these things to de-stress. Why is it that I don’t need to de-stress, when from what I can tell everyone else does? I feel things just as much as the next person and I am affected by life in the same way.
The problem lies in the way we think about stress, what it is, where it comes from and how it affects us. Needing to de-stress presupposes a build up of stress, and it’s usually inferred that stress is something that happens to us, something out there in life imposing itself upon us. When this happens we feel discomfort, almost like pressure rising in a kettle on the stove.
In truth, stress is not something ‘out there’ that is happening to us. Stress is a felt sense experience, an emotional discomfort that arises internally. It arises when there is a misalignment or disconnect between what we are actually doing and what we really want to do, deep down inside. Or when there is a difference between what is actually happening and what we really want to happen, as set up up by our internal expectations – even if that is something small and seemingly trivial.
Let me explain: whenever there is a mismatch between our internal expectations for life and what is actually taking place, or when we do things because we think we should, think we have to, or try to please others, there is a disconnect between our actions and our core feelings. This disconnection between what we are doing and what we are feeling results in a blockage in the flow of our energy. We get taken away from what we really want and ultimately who we really are. This blockage is felt as negative internal feeling states or ‘stress,’ and it is an experience designed to guide you back to your core, your internal wisdom.
So rather than continue with your current approach, check in with your core and change tack, change your approach to whatever you are doing. Let go of your expectations and go with what feels right for you. Align your actions with how you really feel, what you really want in that moment. I don’t mean this in an impulsive or selfish way, I mean in an authentic way, connected with your internal wisdom.
Seeing stress as an internal response that is designed to guide you back to your core, your internal wisdom gives it a different spin. No longer do you need to let stress build up and then focus on de-stressing; rather, you can let your feelings guide you back to acting in a way that feels right for you.
We all experience pressures and feeling of being overwhelmed that occur as part of our frantic lifestyles. Just consider for a moment that you are in the drivers seat with regard to everything you do and say. You set the expectations and you — and only you — are in control of you.
When it comes to the activities that make up your lifestyle, chose things that ignite your passion, that give you a sense of meaning and fun. Don’t do things to de-stress, use your internal feelings as a guide back to your deeper wisdom that wants to help navigate through life.
If you have any comments or questions, please get in touch with me