This week I ran across an article I wrote 10 years ago as a coach for a newsletter - "The Top 10 Ways to Eliminate Struggle From Your Life." At the time I confessed to being a "recovering struggler" aiming to add ease and effortlessness to my life.
Jump ahead a whole decade, and I look at these tips through a different lense. Don't get me wrong - the tips are specific in nature, and constructive. But like a lot of medicine, they address symptoms rather than cause. It occurs to me that if I engage in only one pivotal way of being, that much struggle would take care of itself by not occurring in the first place.
Here is where you come in. The rest of this post includes the actual article from 10 years ago, followed by my "abridged" version of one tip. From here I pass the conversational ball to you, for your reactions, ideas and suggestions on this topic.
The tone of this 10 yr. old article reflects more of a "tell" vs. "show" writing style, which I find irritating, if I say so myself. Thankfully my writing style has evolved over the years <g>
The Top 10 Ways to Eliminate Struggle From Your Life (copyright 1997 Debbie Call)
1. Give up the need to be "right" all the time.
There is always more than one "right" in a given situation. If we insist on being right, then someone else has to be wrong, and the struggle ensues. Ego becomes in charge. There's no peace of mind in that.
2. Stop Judging
Constantly classifying things as right, wrong, good, or bad creates mental turbulence. Deepak Chopra describes this turbulence as restricting the flow of energy and connection to our spiritual essence - our true self and source of creativity. The trick here is first to be aware of when we judge, and then to interrupt it. Then practice judging nothing for brief periods, gradually working up to a day at a time.
3. Understand That the Present is Perfect (editorial comment for '07 - insert "Groan" here)
This can be a tough one - has been for me. It's about accepting people, events, situation as they are in the moment. It may not be what we prefer, and we may wish for things to be different in the future, but we must accept things as they are now. Why? Because non-acceptance creates resistance, and resistance creates struggle [or as Abraham likes to say - sends us paddling upstream.]
4. Stop Blaming Others
This national pastime, a bad habit, brings none of us peace or happiness. One of the things that immediately began to turn my life around was when I could choose how I responded to others. I became responsible for my own happiness by the way I responded. Deepak Chopra defines responsibility as the ability to have a creative response to a situation as it is now. As a result of choosing to respond differently, I experienced less stress.
5. Beware the "Shoulds"
How much of our day is spent responding to "shoulds" - either ours or someone else's? Granted a small dose of "should" may be necessary, even useful. But more than that, and we're no longer connected to our heart - to what we want. Then our day, our life, can turn into one long struggle to be something we're not.
6. Give Yourself a Break
Whenever we try out a new behavior, or are working towards a particular goal, our progress is bound to take a detour or two. It's important to make setbacks OKAY in our minds. Growth, and progress, tend to be spiral in nature. We move up the spiral, and typically slip down a little, before moving back up, and even moving back down a little again. Picture a baby just learning to walk. She takes a couple of steps, totters, and falls, only to get back up again and take a few more steps, repeating this process. She hasn't learned that she's supposed to be "perfect." So she makes falling a normal part of the process. She makes it OKAY.
7. Turn Your Melodrama into a Mellow-Drama
Credit goes to Richard Carlson (Don't Sweat the Small Stuff) for this phrase. This is another variation on the "ain't it awful" stance. Perhaps some of you, like me, have the tendency to take yourselves too seriously. Losing perspective, blowing things out of proportion, can turn our life into an emergency. Next time this happens, remind yourself that your life is not a soap opera and turn off the dialogue.
8. Express Gratitude
Taking the time to reflect on the people and things that make our lives so rich and precious brings its own rewards. It brings perspective, interrupts negative thinking, and reminds us of what we have IN THIS MOMENT. Take five minutes and quickly write down as many people/things that you are grateful for. Even better, express gratitude directly to the persons involved.
9. Schedule a Daily Activity That You Look Forward To
Use your daily planner [2007 comment - sounds dated, doesn't it?] to build in a pleasurable activity each day. It can be a great way to prevent/interrupt a pattern of struggling. It reminds us that life is meant to be enjoyed. If we don't create the space and time in our schedule for pleasure, it's less likely to just happen.
10. Connect to Your Higher Source
It is vital that we set aside time alone to connect to God, or whatever we refer to as Higher Power, Spirit, Higher Self. Making the space to be still, to meditate, or to pray creates opportunities to reconnect to our essence - our spirit, our soul. As we do this, we begin to develop a sense of inner calm and peace. The more adept we become at cultivating inner peace, the less we struggle. Peace and struggle cannot co-exist.
Whew! Glad I'm done typing that and no longer have to cringe at what I wrote. All that yada, yada, yada.
Here's the abridged version:
BE PRESENT [AND GET OUT OF THE WAY]
Here's what happened to me yesterday when I began this post:
* My computer is having a bad day. It won't send out the emails I write, nor will it download waiting mail. Meanwhile, my Internet connection is working and I can travel all over the Internet, even tho my email isn't working. My inner observer comes on and goes "Hmmm . . . isn't this interesting. I think I'll let the email work itself out while I go write a blog post." Inner observer turns off the adrenaline and deletes the temper tantrum button.
* I skip good-naturedly over to Typepad and write the first 3 paragraphs of this post. I scroll down to hit "save," which I do periodically when writing a post. At that moment I lose my Internet connection and lose my post. Inner observer comes on again. "Hmmm . . .o k a y. I think it's time to move away from the computer and go get some lunch."
* I have enough time to grab a sandwich before meeting with another investor interested in looking at a house I have under contract. I eat, brush my teeth, hop in the car, and pull out of the driveway. Before I hit the street my tire goes as flat as a pancake. Another part of me watches the film reel of my life and chuckles. I call my business partner, who can meet the investor out at the house; I call the investor; I call AAA. It all works out and I am grateful that the flat tire happened in front of my house. Can't get more convenient than that.
Being PRESENT yesterday gave me the wherewithal to observe what I was thinking/feeling and to make adjustments. I stayed unruffled with the stupid stuff that happens to all of us. I got out of my own way.
What is one thing you do that seems to work for you?