What if I told you, the cause of stress is never outside of you.
It’s never another person.
It’s never a diagnosis or an overweight body.
It’s never your credit card bill or the loss of a job.
How do I know this is true?
I know, because of a gift you and I share. The gift of Free Will.
It’s such a big deal to self-healing, that I capitalized it. Free Will. The freedom to choose.
So where does stress live? It lives by choice, inside the mind of the individual. We choose stress. And if we choose it often, our poor bodies also pay the price. Relationships become strained. Self-esteem plummets. Problems linger, unsolved.
Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.
~Viktor E. Frankl
Let’s apply this notion of stress to a recent letter I received.
I am almost finished reading the book (Letting Go), however, I am still struggling with the actual mechanism. I have noticed a better overall sense and outlook on things. However, one thing that has been absolutely consuming me is fear of lack. I am completely stuck in fear and desire for money. We have a lot of debt, I lost my job so we are on my husband’s salary alone. I watch the debt pile up and I don’t see an end. I make it a practice to “cast the burden of lack on God” (as in The Game Of Life and How To Play It), however, nothing is changing. I feel that my fear and desire alone is blocking the flow of money. I just want relief of the debt and worry. I don’t know how to let go of these feelings because the problems still exist. Please help.
My Dear S,
As I read your letter, a question arose. “What’s a different way to look at this situation?” As I see it, you have a spouse with a job, access to superb books written by Dr. David R. Hawkins and Florence Scovel Shinn, a history of employment, internet access, expressive writing skills, clear communication, an ability to apply multiple self-healing techniques and an indomitable spirit that won’t give up! You even discovered and submitted a question to a blog, on Letting Go. Thousands of people read this blog, few offer their story. Which tells me, you’re amazing! Just sit with that for a moment, please.
The next thing I’d like to do is, recontextualize the story you tell. Try this on for size…
I am almost finished the book on Letting Go. I felt motivated to try the method and to write you. I’ve noticed a better overall sense and outlook on things. In myself, I’ve identified an issue to which I can apply the practice of letting go. Hooray! It’s around the desire for more money and to be out of debt. I’ve written down some details to look back on, a year from now.
While creating a deeper awareness of this issue, I discovered a pattern. It begins when I notice a pesky thought as it starts to form. If the thought does complete, more follow and then a wave of distressing sensations. Before I know it, I’m consumed. The thought has turned into a theme and it’s all I think, speak, notice and even write about! However, I know from reading your page on, How to Quiet Your Mind, there are many ways I can interrupt this pattern. I’ve tried some and chosen the one that fits best for me.
Once I’ve quieted my mind, I place my attention on the sensations in my body. In silence, I go into the sensations as they arise and allow them. I don’t imagine what they might be about. Any sensation, (including ones my mind interprets as pain) are accepted. I understand some sticky sensations can come in waves, for weeks, or even longer. That’s OK. Bring them on!
For the next year, I’m devoted to learning how to quiet my mind and to let go. Learning something new can take time. Yet I know, as I use these healing techniques, it will get easier. I look forward to when I can let go under any circumstance. I am now open to, “accepting what is,” as my new and grateful way of being.
How does it feel to read a recontextualized version of your story? When you recontextualize (a term used often by Dr. Hawkins) you create a different context. So in this case, instead of being “rag dolled” by life, we address each circumstance as a learning opportunity.
In my re-write, I’ve shared the context of taking 100% responsibility for what’s going on inside. The outside world (including money and debt) can do what it likes. We let go reacting and responding to it. Letting go releases us from our resistance (Remember resistance causes suffering). Instead, we move from, “I’m in debt and have nothing,” to “What can I learn from my situation?” The first statement takes on a victim stance while the second is heroic. From courage, we ask, “What is life teaching me?”
I encourage you to retell your story with you, as the hero. You, as the humble and grateful star of your own life adventure. And consider this. What kind of an adventure is without challenge? Without issues like financial debt or unemployment, how could we learn? I never understand the people who clamour for massive solutions to world problems. When suddenly all our problems are solved, what would be the point of this earthly realm? We are here to learn and grow. We are here to face our “problems,” and apply Free Will.
One great reason for practicing letting go is to free-up energy previously devoted to stress. Creating a new context has a similar effect. With an abundance of available energy, amazing things happen! You may uncover the energy that leads to an exciting new job. Please remember to write and share your letting go success story.
When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves.
~ Viktor E. Frankl