Tuesday, December 21, 2010

How To Feel Better ( Find Peace ) When Others Cause You Chronic Stress or Pain

The Chronic Stress Crisis: How Stress Is Destroying Your Health And What You Can Do To Stop ItSometimes you are faced with problems that you did not cause and can not change. The situation is thrust upon you because of what someone else did or did not do.

Often one can be plagued with bad feelings and thoughts that continue to torment. Worries about the past and the future and feelings of depression and misery can be overwhelming. These feelings may also affect your health and sense of self.

This post will help you find some peace. Take a deep breath.

Many of these ideas come from the best-selling books: A New Earth: Awakening To Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle and A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of "A Course In Miracles" by Marianne Williamson.

This article is for people in situations they can not change or for people who feel trapped in a situation they can not leave (i.e. they feel it would be best to keep a relationship or situation).

Remember that we are not focusing on making the behavior stop, but on finding peace in the midst of the fire. If the situation is such that you can do something about it (i.e. leave a relationship, or job, demand change, etc.) then do it.

Now- let's begin. 

I know you may feel tired of being the one who always takes the hit, but it is important to remember that life is not fair (I watch DVDs about the Jewish Holocaust, the genocide in Rwanda or Darfur, or what China did (and does) to the Tibetans to remind myself of this sometimes).

There is no guarantee of anything in this life. Everything you have is a blessing and amazing fortune on your behalf.

Accept people as they are. It's sad that other people have difficult behaviors (don't forget that you have some of your own too), but resisting the behavior doesn't make you feel better or give you peace.

Completely accepting and loving the person as they are is the only path to peace.

Accept that it is your perspective and thoughts about the other person's actions/behaviors that are causing the suffering. Your thoughts and beliefs make the behavior bad to you. You are creating the suffering by your beliefs and thoughts. You may think that you are right and justified in your thinking, and you might be, but that doesn't help you. What helps you is letting go of judgment. Separate yourself and beliefs from that person's behavior. You might need to speak harshly to yourself, "YOU ARE NOT NECESSARILY RIGHT!" to help you let go of your self-righteous high horse.

Accept people as they are by temporarily or permanently releasing or changing your belief about the behavior to something else. In other words, have no opinion about the behavior or look at it from a different perspective. (You might be thinking, "But...but I know that what they are doing is bad and wrong and they need to pay or they have ruined my life, or why me, or they are ruining their life, etc"). This kind of thinking will not help you or anyone.

Talk with people who are going through the same thing, yet don't seem to be upset by it. If you can't find people, there might be books, magazines, or blogs that can help change your thoughts or beliefs about the behavior, or at least see the reasons behind the behavior- come to an understanding. You are not a better person because you are feeling suffering or being upset or because you think or KNOW you are right. Your suffering does not fix anything. Who you treat as a problem will become a problem.

You are not a more righteous person or a person that is doing good in the world because you are suffering, bitter, angry, judgmental, etc. Your suffering does nothing good.  Offer to give up all of your negative thoughts and emotions. Surrender them. Suffering for other people is harmful. Your pain is bad for the world. It can cause you to act mean to other people (who have nothing to do with the situation), to exclude, to treat others harshly, to judge people and to spread that hatred around. Never feel guilty for not suffering due to other people's behavior. Feeling happy is your right all the time. It's good for you. It's healthy for you and for everyone around you.

Go within yourself through meditation and prayer. Close your eyes and keep your mind clear of thoughts. If you can not keep your mind clear from thoughts focus on a peaceful, repetitive, uplifting song or short phrase.

Visualize climbing into your consciousness and finding the emotions that you want. They are there inside of you. You have emotions to be happy, to fall in love, to be care-free, judgment-free. Find them. Feel them. You can do it when you dream, so it is possible to feel these positive emotions any time. You just need to search for them. Visualize your consciousness, your spirit glowing, burning from within. Concentrate.

Absorb the spirit of God's love in the universe. The spirit is a feeling of peace and love that is everywhere around you and can be breathed into you at any time you will it (or ask for it). It is this spirit that brings life into the world- makes flowers grow, etc.

The combination of a clear mind and the spirit is a peace within. Breathe and focus. Negative thoughts can be bullies. Do not let them in. Do not think on the worry or hurt ever. Go to a peaceful place. You could also visualize something peaceful such as a clear lake or a field of flowers or of embracing someone or walking hand in hand with someone. Breathe.

Focus on your deep, focused, slow breathing. Deep breaths feed extra oxygen to the brain. When people are hurting they take shallow breaths which causes more pain- don't do this. Quiet the mind. Breathe. Release the tension in your face, in your shoulders and in your body.

Ask for peace through prayer. Ask God to change your perceptions and give you peace. Anger, fear and judgment cause you suffering and do nothing for good. Bad feelings and strong reactions are the negative we bring into the world. We want to bring positive into the world.

Do not ask God to stop the behavior or tell you what you can do to stop the behavior. We are not stopping the behavior. The behavior is your teacher. The behavior may come or go, but while it is here it is your teacher and we are not praying away our teachers. We are not relying on God to change other people so we can be happy. We are praying to change ourselves.

Sometimes in the midst of prayer or meditation you may have a thought that will help you, perhaps some sort of boundary you can set up, some way you can be more assertive, or something that can make the behavior more manageable or protect you better or make up for the behavior, etc.

Here are some examples of thoughts you might have while meditating: Your spouse never cleans and he or she won't change, but if he or she promises to at least take out the garbage on Saturdays and promises to take you to Italy on your birthday every year or allow you to purchase something, etc. to make up for their lack of cleaning help you might see this as a reasonable deal. If this sounds like a good deal for you and you can make an agreement then do it, if it doesn't sound like a good deal, perhaps you can make a different deal.  Another example is your child comes home drunk, so the contract or deal is that he or she now has to clean the whole house, etc. Or your six year old pooped in his/her pants again so he/she will now have to wash them in the toilet and then take a bath and clean his/her room. Or if you have a cheating spouse you might make a deal that they call you at certain intervals whenever they are out of town and if something happens, the spouse has to let you go on a week long trip to Fiji with your friends. Or if you have a difficult parent or small child or boss who can't do anything for you- figure out a way to reward yourself if they are difficult. Whatever you can agree on. Any deal that says- When you do or do not do this chronic behavior you will have to do this for me, or you will have this natural consequence, or I will reward myself with this. It is best to have the natural consequence benefit you in some way.

A combination of regularly scheduled massages, your favorite music, regular exercise and a good friend, therapist or support group to talk about the issue are also very helpful.

Again, we are not trying to change the person or behavior, just make it more manageable for you. The behavior may or may not change- we are not relying on the outcome for your happiness. You are totally accepting the person right now- loving the person for who they are. We are breathing through the moments we are hit with disgust or repulsion. We are rising above that. We are stepping outside of ourselves and seeing with new eyes- a new perspective, a new mind. People learn how to love eating bugs. You can too.

However, it is still a good idea to make a deal with the person ( a written contract or agreement). You might also consider paying someone else to get involved in the relationship (i.e. a counselor,  a teacher, a doctor, or a babysitter for a difficult child). These people might be able to add to the love in your relationship. But again, never rely on change or outcomes to determine your happiness.

Do not punish. In punishing others, we punish ourselves. This does not mean there should be no consequences- natural consequences- not punishments. You might need to say simply, "I will need to stay away from you for awhile while I work through this (i.e. meditate/pray)." Or, "According to our contract or agreement- this is what will be done now."

Even though by every standard of ethics, morality or integrity you are totally justified in your anger you need to ask yourself "Do I prefer to be right or to be happy?" God doesn't need us to always police the universe. Sometimes we need to let go and let other people make their own choices. We think we know better, but we need to accept that we don't know everything and sometimes it isn't our right to impose our beliefs on other people. Sometimes the behavior is out of their control ( an addiction, a disability, an illness, age, lack of maturity or understanding ). Realize this. Accept them as they are. Never take other people's behavior personally. Never feel sorry for yourself. You are strong and in control of your own life.

The miracle worker sees that his or her purpose in life is to be used in the service of the forgiveness of mankind. Your prayers should always be for God to change your heart, not others. It may be that you love your alcoholic husband or child until he drinks himself to death. That is terribly sad, but better that you loved him through it then fought him up until the end. If you can't change the behavior you have a choice of leaving, hating or loving. It is up to you. If you want to stay or feel like you need to,  then love is the only path to peace.

In the moment that something (you perceive) bad is happening stay focused on the present moment. Concentrate on your inner strength. Focus on these thoughts, "I can handle this. I am strong. I rise above."  Go within and focus your loving spirit outward. Concentrate. Keep your mind clear. Step outside of the situation and observe yourself and your feelings. Name them. Surrender them. Make no judgments.

What we give to others we give to ourselves. What we withhold from others we withhold from ourselves. Embrace your life and the people around you. Everybody's life looks different and it never looks like the chick flicks (movies).

Often comparing ourselves to others (or to the fictional movies) creates suffering. Comparing is an illusion. Sometimes the happiest people are the ones who have the least and the most miserable are the ones who seem to have everything. This is because happiness comes from the mind. Changing thoughts and perceptions, having an open mind, doing your best, loving people as they are- these are the keys to inner peace and joy.

Whatever you choose to see or believe comes true for you. It doesn't matter what other people say, think or believe about it- even the so called "experts"- it only matters what you think and you can think anything you want- without guilt. And when you hold that peace and love inside instead of anger, bitterness, worry and fear you can help to spread the love out to others in the world. You can change the world one person at a time.

Be the change you want to see in the world.


David Almendarez said...

Forgiveness is a super way to help in dealing with difficult situations or people. One needs to forgive themselves in addition to the other situation or person. The act of forgiveness dissolves the feelings of resentment and slowly turns into gentle acceptance.

Actively focusing on the positives instead of the negatives of a person or situation is also a big way to overcome feelings of frustration and anger.

The average person can enjoy a wonderful life by thinking quality thoughts moment by moment with a spirit of gratitude.

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