What are the stories you carry?
We all carry stories within us. Our own narrative of how our life is and should be, based on our past experiences, beliefs and values.
Our mind is very powerful. When we keep telling ourselves the same stories, we start to believe them and make sure these stories keep happening.
Sometimes, the stories we carry may no longer serve us as we grow and evolve. I believe that these stories show themselves through our life experiences when we experience frustration, stress, struggle, anger, and anxiety.
At the end of last year, I set the goal for myself for 2020 that I will do less and attract more.
In less than one month, I still find myself struggling with many things on my plate. I still feel like I need to push through so I can get all of these things done on time. Some of these things are draining my energy, and I tell myself that I should just finish them so I can get on with my life.
I don’t have a perfect answer to my own struggle yet. But I see myself carrying this story of needing to struggle. Perhaps I’m trying to prove something through my struggle. Perhaps I believe deep down that life is full of struggles.
I’m aware of the story I carry and the frustration that stems from it.
During this period of frustration, I remind myself to be gentle, and here are my 3 tips on what you can do when you feel frustrated that have worked for me:
1. Stay curious rather than critical
Curiosity over criticism. When we are struggling, it’s easy to either point the finger at another person or to start judging ourselves. We may even take out our frustration on our friends and family. Then, as the downward spiral goes, we regret our actions and start to tell ourselves how horrible we are as a human being.
When we stay curious with an open mind, we look for the root cause of the trigger. We can see from a broader perspective, and ask questions to reflect instead to judge.
TRY THIS: Next time when you feel frustrated or angry, be curious and ask yourself, “Oh it’s interesting that I feel so frustrated about this. I wonder why I am feeling so upset over this. What is it triggering inside me? “ Write down your answers in your journal. If you don’t have an answer right away, ask the Universe for some support and to show you the answer when it’s the right time. Just be patient.
2. Play and Move
Be gentle with yourself when you feel like you are struggling, but see if you can do something else other than sitting in front of the TV or the phone.
I find that moving your body and playing is a faster way to change the way you feel about your current situation.
I was feeling so upset at myself one day and just wanted to stay in bed to stare at my phone, which I did, for 45 minutes. Then since my helper was off, I sat down and played with my son even though I didn’t feel like it. But as we were playing with his sandbox, and later in his bath, I felt my mood lighten up.
TRY THIS: You may have to give yourself a gentle nudge if you find yourself in a rut and just want to laze around. The best remedy is a change of scenery. Get out of the house and go for a walk in nature. Go to a dance or movement meditation or fitness class. Go play with children, play like children.
3. Bring your focus back to what lights you up
It’s easy to forget doing what really brings us joy when we feel like there are so many things that we SHOULD do, for whatever reason we tell ourselves, like for a living, for family, and so on.
When we feel like there are a million things to do, and throw unexpected problems and challenges on top of that, our energy gets drained very quickly. If you have experienced a “brain dead” moment before (not literally), you’ll get what I mean.
In a recent tea ceremony class I attended, the tea master explained that a lot of our problems reside in our mind only. They are only mental constructs, or thoughts.
The feeling of having many things to do with little time, is in fact only a thought. If you come to feel into your body at the present moment, the body may feel tension or tightness but that’s usually not the main problems we are thinking of in our mind. Most of our problems, worries, thoughts do not exist in the present moment.
If you have heard of the Pareto principle or the 80/20 rule (20% of action generate 80% of the result), I believe that in order to do less and attract more, the 20% action would be focusing on the things that we feel really good doing.
Prioritize to feel good and your 20%, instead of achieving all things on your to-do list. When you feel energized from the work that brings you joy, you will have more energy to deal with unexpected problems and challenges in life.
TRY THIS: When you feel anxious and stressed out that there are too many things to do with too little time, stay curious and ask yourself if it’s truly a life and death emergency without judgment. If the answer is no, and things can wait, even though it may sound counterproductive, give yourself permission to do things that light you up and bring you joy. Notice how life unfolds when you do that.
I had a problem at work that I didn’t have an answer to in the past few days and my inability to resolve the problem brought incredible frustration.
When things get difficult or challenging, my default reaction is to escape and avoid. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Thankfully with the help of my daily meditation practice, I notice my own default reaction and I know I can make a different choice. A conscious decision to respond in a different way.
I know I’m not perfect. I still have angry outbursts and say hurtful things when I shouldn’t have. But I know somewhere deep down, my inner light is guiding me to gently notice. To stay curious. To keep showing up to my daily practice and to what brings me joy.
I may not have the answer to my problem now. But I am asked to let go of the need to know all the answers all the time.
It’s my time to surrender.
And so, with a million things to do in my mind, I choose to do what lights me up. I begin to write this blog.