Acceptance and letting go – when it comes to any stress in your life these are the two solutions. Take a pen and paper right now and write down everything that’s stressing you out in your life. Amongst the things you write down, some will be in your hand to control, while others will be not. This is when powerful tools like “acceptance and letting go” help. They are easy words to say, but extremely difficult to practice because our own fears and insecurities come in between.
The most effective ways to de-stress remains to be one of the most talked about subjects today. There are different ways people vent out – through a drink, smoke, socialise or shop. Some sit down, meditate, chant, practice yoga. Each of these may be good ways to de-stress and unwind for you as long as its working for you. However, when it comes to finding the root cause of any illness or delving deeper into where the stress might be stemming from, it requires one to find ways that are beyond materialistic pleasures that coverup the voids we have in our lives. If these voids aren’t handled the right way, they gradually get deeper and deeper and finally manifest into a disease. The constant habit of supressing emotions, pushing our bodies beyond limits to work more, sleeping less to adjust to the chaotic world – get us nowhere at the end. Every human being has a set point. Its nothing but our bodies natural brilliance. Our body can take it all till that set point. The moment we cross the set point, our body shuts down too, either through a disease, pain, injury, nervous breakdown. So, each of us must stay within the set point of our body and avoid pushing out limits.
Ideals and Beliefs, you are attached to
Each of us have ideals that we strongly hold onto. Ideals are nothing but beliefs that we have about certain things. When we strongly hold onto these ideals and if life doesn’t work in accordance with these ideals, disappointment sets in, along with anxiety, stress, anger, frustration, insecurity and fear. What are the ideals you are attached to? Start writing down these ideals and beliefs. For e.g. : people should be considerate or kind to you, people should be fair, I should get the promotion I worked for, I will be healthy always, things will always be where you kept them in your house, your house will always be clean, your kids will do exactly what you tell the to do, you will be loved by everyone, etc. These are some of the beliefs we have and they are shaped over the years, right from our childhood based on what we see, hear or learn from social groups.
The sad part is – life doesn’t always work according to our ideals. Your kids may not necessarily speak to you the way you want them to. People are not going to love you the way you want them to. Different people have different ways of expressing love towards you. If you put in long hours of work, it doesn’t mean that you will be promoted. Its not necessary that all the efforts you put in towards your health will result in weight loss the way you want. If you are sick, your healing doesn’t have to happen at the pace you want. Just because you have spent a huge amount of money behind doctors, experts and nutritionist, it doesn’t mean that the disease is taken care of. If you leave home earlier, it doesn’t always mean that you will not find traffic. All I mean to say is that – “life doesn’t always work according to our ideals and beliefs.” We need to rise above these ideals around how a perfect world or a perfect human being should be. In short, we have to learn how to ACCEPT and LET GO.
At the same time, this doesn’t mean we become a doormat and accept everything that comes our way. If someone is bad mouthing you, disrespecting you or pulling you down, you don’t have to simply accept and let go. There is a process of handling this situation. Before reacting, assess what ideals and beliefs you hold ? If you have a belief that no one should respect you, then you need to correct yourself . There will always be someone who hates or disrespects you. So don’t let your rigid beliefs cause frustration, sadness, disappointment. When we accept that everyone is different and we cannot please everyone, it becomes easier to let go. Learn how to let go of your attachments and beliefs as well as people who do not behave the way you want. You can still hold on to the belief that you want to be treated with love, but just accept that not everyone will treat you that way.
Consider a businessman who desires success because he has worked hard, sacrificed and invested time and effort. However life doesn’t always work that way. Success us not under our control so we must accept that and let it go. Similarly, if it takes an hour for you to travel to work, can you accept and let go off it? Is this in your circle of control or out of it? If its in your circle of control, can you stay closer to your workplace to avoid travel? If that’s possible, work towards it. If you can’t, accept that it will take an hour to reach. This requires breaking the ideals and beliefs. This helps you get away with frustration, disappointment and all negative emotions that come along.
Likewise, in relationships with your spouse, children, colleagues and friends, we always expect them to love us the way we want to be loved or accepted, but it doesn’t work that way. We also have the awful habit of comparing ourselves with others all the time, for e.g.: comparing our bodies with other people. We must understand that there is no way we will have the same body as our friends or actors on screen. Each of us are different. Because we hold on to ideals, we compare and then are left disappointed. Likewise, everyone wants to build a successful billion-dollar company but not everyone will do it.
We must understand that there is something called as destiny. Somethings are on our part and somethings aren’t. Somethings come early and somethings take a while. But all the negativity and stress that we create in between because our life isn’t acting in accordance to our ideals is what destroys us inside out. It can also increase inflammation, increase blood pressure, slow down liver and kidney function, lower immunity, accumulate fat around abdomen, destroy relationships and robs us of the very essence of living life.
I see around 30-40 patients in a day and each of their stress can be rooted down to something they are trying to control – be it their children, family or work colleagues. Mothers try to control who their children will get married to. Businessmen try to control their companies and employees because they invest so much money behind them, they need certain amount of work to be done. Well, nothing is in our control and it never will be. Sometimes in order to reduce your stressors in life, you have to think beyond meditation and chanting and focus on what your beliefs are and what ideals are you attached to.
Let me share another example. I book a flight thinking that it will leave and reach destination on time. However, it doesn’t always happen that way. So, should I be angry and shout at the airline staff? Or should I simply accept knowing that other passengers too are going through the same delay and rather making use of the available time to get some steps, make a couple of client calls, read and learn. I can make use of my available time rather than getting frustrated and angry blaming it on my luck. If I do that, I will lose out on living life effectively in that moment.
For most parents, when their children grow up and are sent to foreign universities for higher studies, they start to feel emptiness and loneliness. This is again an ideal that one needs to overcome. Your kids will have to leave and be on their own one day. Travelling often to meet your kids and chasing this void is not a solution.
It’s important to know the ideals and beliefs that weigh you down in life. Here’s an exercise for you.
Take a piece of paper and write down your ideals and beliefs that control you, rob your peace and of living life completely. You’ll be surprised to see how many ideals and beliefs you have in your mind about yourself and how life should be.
Sit down and analyse. Take action for the ones that are within your control. The ones that are outside of your control – only “acceptance and letting go” will work.
We must know there each of us are different and unique in our own ways. There is only one Steve Jobs and only one Whitney Houston. Do not try to be like them. You can emulate them. You can learn qualities from them and put them in your life, but your life is your path. Stay on your path, move forward and don’t look at anything and everything that’s over and above you because they may pull you down and cause stress.
Sharing a simple example. Suppose you are having a bad day and while you are scrolling through social media like Facebook and Instagram, you realise everyone else is having a great start to their day, so you start feeling worse. You start beating yourself up and look for things to make you happy. Don’t compare your lives with others because it will bring in disappointment and frustration and increase anxiety. Anxiety is the root cause of most diseases today, be it diabetes or cancer. Every time you are stressed, you are upsetting the delicate hormonal balance and hormones control everything, right from immunity, sleep, weight to liver, heart and brain function. There is nothing wrong in having a bad day. You will have bad days and happy days, both.