I’m listening to this audiobook called The Untethered Soul at Work. He’s telling me in this recording that sounds more like a dharma talk and less like a book reading that I’m stressed out because I choose to be stressed out. I sort of want to say fuck off dude.
I’ve been known to be stressed out a time or two or a billion. Even now. When I have more boundaries. When I can laugh at myself more often. When I get way more sleep than I did in my teens, twenties, or thirties.
And here’s this Michael Singer dude telling me that I’m stressed out because I’m resisting reality. Telling me that it’s not what’s happening that’s the problem; it’s my resistance to what’s happening. And most annoying of all, telling me that I can simply DECIDE to stop being stressed. All I have to do is stop resisting what’s happening. Stop resisting what I’m being called to do in any given moment.
*#%&! That’s like advice to “stop comparing yourself to other people.” Utterly unactionable. If I could do that, I would’ve done it years ago and saved myself a whole shitpile of heartache.
I’m leading a huge outdoor kids’ arts event for 2,000 people on Saturday. It requires a 12-hour day of set-up on Friday. The forecast for Friday is rain. I have banged my head against the brick wall of weather prediction in advance of many an outdoor event, and we do not have one iota of control over Mother Nature. So I have nothing to lose except 973 obsessive refreshes of weather dot com.
I decide not to resist the reality of Friday’s rain. I give over to the reality that it’s probably going to rain a lot. We’re going to have to deal with that in several many ways. I will likely spend much of the day soaking wet. I will need to lead folks through whatever feelings they have about the rain.
I am both annoyed and amused to find that I am now considerably less stressed about this rain thing. And now that I am not resisting the rain, I make a few small preparations to plan for it.
It’s Thursday morning.
My child is in the crabbiest mood when I wake her up to get ready for school. Whining. Complaining that I am helping her incorrectly. Stomping around because she doesn’t know how to tie off her finger weaving. Hollering about how she’s going to be late for school and how she hates being late for school—all the while actually making our originally-on-time morning dangerously close to . . . late for school.
After I walk around exuding a ruthlessly efficient combination of stone and ice for about 10 minutes, I hear myself (in my own mind) saying that I am super stressed because our kid is in a crabby mood. I am 100% resisting the reality that she is, clearly, in a crabby mood.
What the hell: I decide that I will not resist the reality of her crabby mood. She will be crabby, whether I want her to be or not. I will probably inflame her crabbiness when I tell that she does indeed need to brush and floss before school. I will probably spend the next 20 minutes getting a crabby child ready for school.
This decision about my internal resistance did not put my child in a better mood. It did, however, put me in a better mood. With less stress. And now that I am not resisting her crabby mood, I can see that we will both get more of what we want if I find her legwarmers that match.
It’s Thursday night.
I have a lot to do after kid bedtime. For the event this weekend. For clients not related to the event this weekend. For this writing so that I can set it to publish on Saturday while I’m opening the front gates at the festival.
I do not like to work after kid bedtime. Because kid bedtime is also usually mama bedtime for this mama. I like to be asleep at 8:30—and for sure by 9—during the week. I feel myself starting to panic about how late I will be up.
Right now, it’s 10:31 p.m., and I’m deciding not to resist the reality of being up late. I’m telling you: If I’m going to be ready for tomorrow, I’m going to be up late tonight. Probably until midnight. I am tired. I just yawned. I would prefer to be asleep right now. But the reality is: I am up late.
Right. So now I’m working with reality. And maybe working with reality is just inherently less stressful than all the wishful thinking we do.
I don’t know if this creates shifts with big things for families or organizations or communities the way it shifted things for me over the past 36 hours with more daily things.
I just know the idea of it made me so mad, and then it worked.