I went to the doctor yesterday for a routine physical. The topic of stress came up and I immediately dismissed it. “Stressed?! I’m not stressed. I have no reason to be stressed!” Yep, I actually said that.
My tense shoulders and waking up with a sore jaw from grinding my teeth would say otherwise.
I am experiencing stress.
The funny part is that I knew. I have been all up in my head, caught up in shit-storm of thoughts. My normally quiet mind has been on overdrive lately. Why? Hell, I don’t know. I have some clues but the thing is, as much as I have been taught to believe otherwise, stress doesn’t come from out there (or the stuff going on in life). It’s an internal thing. A message from the body saying hey! you’re caught up in your thinking. Wake up, yeah?
And for the record, I didn’t see this all on my own. I had help. Because I was on a call with Michael Neill. Yes, that Michael Neill. (Squeeeee!!!)
I knew it. But I couldn’t see it.
But what really struck me this morning was how quick I was to deny I was stressed. I could not be stressed. To be stressed would mean I was failing at being a happy person.
Failing at being a happy person…
It’s amazing, isn’t it? The level of bullshit I can trip myself up with??
It dawned on me that I was doing my level best to resist other emotions I deemed negative too. Mad. Angry. Sad? Nope! I’m none of those. I’m happy all the time!
Here’s my theory… I spent so much of my life in such an unhappy state. I think I was afraid that if I acknowledged feeling sad, or whatever, then that meant that I wasn’t really happy. Or that I was going to lose my happiness, like something that could fall out of my pocket. Feeling anything but cheery was going to bring the happy police to my door to revoke my membership card. Or I would suddenly loose my ability to feel joy. Or worse, I might slip into a black depression again. I don’t think there’s a person alive who has experienced the “black dog” who doesn’t, on some level, fear its return.
But wait! Here’s the good part. I really have something to look forward to. Why? Because today, I realized that along with resisting, I’ve been filtering – to try to keep my happy on an even keel. This hasn’t been a huge deal because mostly, I am happy. Often I feel deliriously happy. But it’s impossible to selectively filter. I can’t just feel the “good emotions” while rejecting the “bad” ones. If I’m holding a pillow over the face of sadness or anger, then happiness can’t breathe either. Yeah, I know it’s a bizarre analogy but it’s Halloween tomorrow. The macabre is in the air. Go with it! The good part is this means that there’s a higher level – a wider level – of human experience that I will get to enjoy, now that I have come to see the error of my crazy. Joseph Campbell, author of The Power of Myth put it this way: “People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”
Perks. Pitfalls. All of it. More. Rapture. Yeah. I am down with that!