Stress tells us where our comfort zone is. We get addicted to stress because we need the sense of control that comes from knowing where the borders of that zone are. We’ve convinced ourselves that security exists within these borders. As long as we feel stress, we’ll know where the limits of security are.
Stress addiction causes some strange thought patterns. For instance, have you ever had a day where there was no stress and everything was going “too well”? So, you convince yourself that something terrible must be happening – something must be wrong.
If everything seems “too fine”, we somehow find something to think about that causes anxiety. You’re having a great day, then you get alone for a few minutes and strange worries start running through your head. And it’s always all the things you can’t control. It seems you need to feel stress so you can feel some sense of control.
Stress is just a symptom of a wrong identity. You are stressed because you are believing something about yourself that isn’t true. You are believing that you are unhappy because of some situation. It’s always something you can’t control – something outside of you. As long as stress is present, it gives you a reason to be unhappy. It gives you a reason to justify your brokenness.
The truth is, you are broken somewhere deep inside. To let go of all the things you’ve held on to in order justify feeling the way you do, would be to expose that brokenness. The brokenness has created the belief that who you are is not enough. As long as things are happening outside of your control, you can justify those things as the reason you are “not enough”. You are addicted to stress because to let go of it would mean letting go of your reason for being unhappy and broken.
We don’t like feeling powerless. If we are wounded inside, we’re holding on to stress, controlling the ability to feel stress, so we can feel powerful. It gives us some sense of control. That’s why if everything seems perfect, you’ll find some reason to be stressed, because you believe a story that says you need something to control. As crazy as it sounds, you are trying to control the feeling of being out of control.
It all points back to the story you tell yourself about stress. Why do you tell yourself that story? What if you were to let go of that story?
So let’s do that.
Try something. Give yourself some time, like an hour…or two.
Get alone somewhere and block out all distractions. Get really quiet and close your eyes. Your mind will start to immediately fill up with all sorts of messages. It might tell you to look at your phone, or it might try to get you to think about some situation in your job or personal life. Don’t respond to any of these messages. Just notice these thoughts and let them pass. Don’t hold on to them and focus on them. Don’t try to resist and fight them. Just notice and let them pass on by.
Eventually, you’ll get deeper. Once all of those thoughts have passed by, you’ll start to feel what’s going on inside you. You’ll start to feel the brokenness.
Feel the brokenness and instead of fighting it, just let it be. Let yourself open up to it. Let emotions come up freely. Don’t resist. Let go.
Feel it. Cry if you have to. Let your emotions release. Something amazing will happen. That brokenness will leave. It won’t need to stay anymore.
You see, the brokenness is just a story, too. It is there because it was never let go. You held on to it and spent your entire life resisting it. Resistance to it is what kept it there, buried beneath the story, attached to our identity. When you embrace it, feel it, and release it, you become free from it.
Once it is gone, you are left with the real you.
And it’s the person you most want to be. When all expectations and resistance are gone – when your old story leaves – you are left with you. You will feel an enormous amount of love. You will see the endless possibility in who you are.
I know this sounds a little too simple on paper, but if you will practice this (every day if you can) and make it a point to let go of the story swirling in your head, you will find tremendous freedom. You’ll also realize the freedom was there the whole time. You just have to let go.
So, if you are feeling stress, then it’s just a sign that you need to let go of something. You need to let go of the person you think you are. You need to let go of the need for control. You need to let go of the story that has become your “real world”.
The life you most want is found on the other side.
For real this time.
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