Permitted Invasion of Stress

Have you ever experienced something in life, where despite your best efforts, things went completely out of control and spun off in all directions, creating total havoc?

I sure have.

It happened again recently. Maureen and I had replaced our front storm door with a brand new quality unit we thought would be ideal for us.

For no apparent reason one of the parts in the lock mechanism retracted and I could not get it to move, even a fraction of an inch. I imagined leaving home and returning only to find that somehow it snapped itself back into place locking us out of our house. And to add to this scenario, of course the key would no longer work. So, I taped over the opening to make sure we’d be able to get back in until we could get it fixed.

A few days later our brand new iMac computer, which had previously been working flawlessly, decided to question our standard password. I entered it and the little gray dots on the screen shook in place, saying in effect, ‘uh uh buddy, not your password.’ So, I tried again. Same result. I called in reinforcements. Maureen entered the password and again if shook it off. We both looked down at the keyboard. Nope, the Cap Lock key was not on.

I waited a bit to see if it would come back to its senses and watched as the screen froze in place and would not respond to any keystroke. I was completely locked out.

So, now my house and my computer were both restricting access. Interesting.

I won’t try to explain in detail, but there were a number of other things happening that were going the same way. And as it happens we were trying to get ready to go away on vacation. I admit that I was stressed out about the intersection of all these problems hitting at once. I took no time to step back and breathe. I didn’t get up and go for a walk or tell myself it would all be okay and that the things I was experiencing would all work out.

No, instead I permitted an invasion of stress into my life and rushed ahead and made matters worse. Instead of dialing Apple Customer Service I mistakenly got through to Apple Care Customer Service. And yes, they are a scam outfit. But given my inner stress and lack of forethought, I fell into their trap, which resulted in having to change all of my passwords and other information and a great deal more stress, and still no functioning computer.

I hope that you don’t have any stories similar to this, but you probably do. You may be able to identify with my confusion and understand why I didn’t step back and more carefully consider my actions.

I believe that everything that happens in life contains hidden gems waiting patiently for us to reveal them. I’ve spoken about this to lots of folks and am often asked to share what has come to me. Sometimes I think the requester wants to judge the benefits I discovered for themselves and see if in their opinion they justify the stress I encountered. Other times I believe there is a genuine curiosity and desire to see how they might be able to reveal gems in their own lives.

Here’s what was revealed this time to me, so that you can see for yourself.

I realized that I am human and will make mistakes and will sometimes berate myself for them. Seeing this clearly allows me to acknowledge my feelings, then release them and any ego attachment to them.

I recognized that fear was the driving force behind all of my stress. And, in my case, the fear represented a lack of faith in the loving universe. This gave me the chance to center myself in my belief that I am loved, protected and cherished by the divine.

I accepted that when I feel stress and time pressure building I loss focus. This helps me to realize I can consciously release whatever stress enters my life and shift my attention to addressing things positively. I also realize that I can stretch time by slowing down, sitting back and breathing into it.

I acknowledged that anger was playing a significant part in my experience. It blurred my vision so that all I could see was unfavorable outcomes. I embraced the idea that being angry is a choice. A choice that does not benefit me and one that requires a high price to be paid. I don’t want to pay this kind of price and I can make better choices. It’s really up to me.

I came to understand that a big part of me was flashing the ‘fairness’ card, enticing me to jump inside the loop of seeing the world as not fair to be treating me this way. The whole idea of fairness is a trap. Quicksand really. The more you struggle, the worse it becomes. I heard a small beautiful voice inside my head saying, “There is no such thing as fairness or punishment and there are no required lessons to learn. You are free to choose to experience life in any way you desire. You can release yourself from anything that feels too heavy or creates stress. Please choose wisely.”

And a companion to fairness rose up during this experience. Control. My desire and my need to control not only the outcome but the process as well. I realized that control is born from fear and I also realized that control is an illusion. We make choices, but we don’t control all outcomes. We are not here by ourselves and there is an incredible web of interconnections throughout the universe. I opened to accepting that there is great wisdom in releasing any sense of control and trusting in the innate intelligence of the universe.

Lastly, I found that when confronted by overwhelming challenges, I can be sustained by consciously releasing whatever rises up in me. I can focus on being patient with myself and offer myself love, knowing I am part of the divine and a radiant being of light. In this way I can be wholly engaged in life, ready for any beautiful encounter that comes my way.

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Power

Recently, my wife and I were babysitting our two local grandchildren. Their family lives near a very active train yard and we’re pretty used to all of its noises. The screeching of rail car wheels against the tracks and the loud slamming and banging of train cars being coupled. And, all of the whistles.

But, what we heard last Wednesday went far beyond any of these sounds. It was as if every train car in the yard had suddenly been picked up and smashed into one another in some kind of massive train wreck.

It turns out, it wasn’t trains we heard, it was the wind. It howled and shook the house. It destroyed trees, pulling some enormous giants out by their roots and simply tossing them aside.

The devastation was mind blowing and widespread.

And, of course, the power went out. Went out and stayed out.

Once my wife and I were home it was time to go into action. Time to find all of the flashlights and candles and get out extra blankets for us, plus one for my 96-year-old mom, who stayed with us. Of course, there was one more important thing to remember, don’t open the refrigerator door!

You probably have your own tales to tell about power outages, so you know how the story goes. No heat, no food, no light, no TV or computer. And for us, no cell phone, since we don’t have a car charger.

No communication with the outside world.

Powerless.

The part of me that wasn’t feeling sorry for myself understood this is the way vast portions of the world’s population feel every single day of their lives.

I don’t mean being without electricity, although there are many who exist this way. I mean feeling powerless to have the kind of life they want, for themselves and for their families. Powerless, with no real prospect for that to change. Powerless, and probably, hopeless.

I thought of all the people whose whole world falls apart due to some calamity. Some outside or inside force that shatters their lives.

I thought of those who deal with disease or oppression or racial injustice or malnutrition. The list goes on and on.

I thought, what is my powerlessness compared to theirs?

You might be wondering, what is the message of inspiration here?

Well, part of the answer is found in knowing how our electricity was restored. PEOPLE. Humans reconnecting wires and reestablishing a path for the power to travel.

People working together we are capable of incredible things. We’ve been able to reach out and touch the moon and beyond. We’ve discovered new medicines, saved rain forests, created new ways to harness energy. This list goes on and on too.

People working together we can do amazing things. Perhaps we can even offer hope to the powerless. No doubt, there are a million ways to do this.

Choosing just one can make a difference.

We all can make a difference.

We don’t have to cure everything in the world. But, imagine if one million people did one thing to help restore power.

That too would be mind blowing.

Expectations

I still find it upsetting when my expectations are not met. It doesn’t seem to matter what size they are, the unsatisfied feelings I get are pretty much the same. Some part of me knows there is a wealth of value in every experience of my life, but, when I’m in the moment, I often can’t see that.

Here’s a real-life example.

Despite all of my best efforts, my first website post wasn’t visible on Sunday, October 4, 2020 at 7:30am as I’d promised and I’d expected.

I confess, I panicked. I sat in front of my computer, frustrated, unhappy and frankly more than a little angry. And, I had no idea how to fix the problem. I believe I might even have said a bad word or two. Okay, I did say a bad word of two.

Even though I eventually found a work-around, I realized I had many more changes that needed to be made so that you could navigate more easily. And, so that you can share your comments and read those which others have written. I’m still working on these.

Looking back, I understand that I reacted very emotionally. Nothing specifically wrong with that, after all, I am human. But, were my reactions helpful and what might have served be better?

Well for one thing, I could have stopped and allowed myself to sit in stillness. I could have breathed in and out slowly until my emotions came to a halt. And, I could have allowed a part of me to stand at a distance and observe what was going on inside of me. From this place I could have acknowledged my feelings, encouraged them to speak to me and embraced them. If I had, I might have understood what was beneath the surface. I might have realized that each feeling came to serve me and offer me a message.

Many years ago, my wonderful friend and Unity minister, Jim Fuller, shared in one of his sermons that it is very important to ‘feel your feelings’. This idea was a foreign concept to me and had not been a part of my cultural training. And yet, I sensed how significant and necessary it could be for me.

So, I began expressing my feelings in a daily journal. It’s been almost six years and I’m still writing every day and discovering truths hidden beneath the surface.

And now, back to my opening paragraph about my unmet expectations. When I stood still and gently breathed in and out and let my intense emotions drain away, I found that my fear of failure sat directly on top of me. Fear that I could not manage the technology necessary to communicate with you. Fear, that despite my deep desire, I could not keep my promises to you and share my thoughts based on when I said I would.

So, I turned to Lia, one of my names for (god), which stands for ‘love in action’, and asked for her wisdom.

She reminded me of a simple, yet powerful message she’s offered me in the past, “just show love”. These words sunk into me and allowed the power of my expectations, and the fears underneath them, to fade away, replaced by a marvelous sense of love.

I hope to remember this wisdom sooner next time.