“I am an old man and I have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.” – Mark Twain
Most of us are bombarded with tons of stuff all throughout our day. We have too much on our plate, emails, phone calls, texts to return, and deadlines quickly approaching. Management is on top of us, everyone seems to rely on us – and to top it all off, we have to leave work ‘on time’ today to pick up the kids and feed them before baseball practice. We’re under a lot of pressure – so much that we suspect the quality of our work, day, and life is suffering.
Let’s face it, there will always be stress in our life. The difference between those who are calm, relaxed, and focused in these stressful times, and those who aren’t, is based on HOW you deal with stress in the moment.
When we’re overstressed, we react, go too fast, and can pile on even more stress by making little mistakes that we would not usually make. When this happens, we tend to be a little too hard on ourselves. We say things like, “What the hell’s wrong with me?“, ” You did it again, you idiot“, etc. As if being a total donkey to our self with some nasty self-criticism will make us feel better.
One of the most important elements of mindfulness and meditation is cultivating self-compassion in these stressful times. When mindfulness is practiced in a very skillful way, it significantly increases our self-compassion. It changes our relationship to our self, because we start to let go of our story, the judgment and blame, and allow our experience to be what it IS – without trying to jump right in and criticize it. We learn to reflect in the moment as opposed to our usual default setting, reacting to the moment.
When we stop beating ourselves up, we’re able to see that a little space opens up around our problems and we can often see our way through to the solution faster. We get clear and see more of the facts – and less of our story that’s mucking everything up.
So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or are coming out of a tense meeting and need to clear your head, take a deep breath in – and a slow, long exhale out, and then ask yourself:
“What do I need right now in THIS moment?”
When we ask this we’re able to pop out of our experience and observe what’s really happening (and needed) in that moment and establish a basic kindness for ourselves. Then, when we’re really stressed, instead of reacting and turning on ourselves, we might find ourselves stopping and asking, “what do I need right now?”… and actually give it to ourselves rather than living in a constant reaction mode and fighting meaningless battles in our head throughout the day.
I hope this helps!