Suddenly, I stopped.

I listened to what my mind was saying. It was telling me some funny things.

“You need to blog more. People will stop showing up.”

“Boy, you’ve been working really hard. Accomplishing so much. Doing so well. Hope it lasts.”

“Wow, are you ever stressed out! You poor thing. How are you going to cope?”

“You need to connect with your friends more. They need you. And if you don’t start reaching out more, they won’t be there when you need them.”

“What if this doesn’t work out – what if you fail? Then you’ll really have done it.”

“You’ve been sitting still for at least 1/2 an hour. Better do something, or you’ll drop the ball!”

Any of these messages sound familiar to you?

The way we talk to ourselves most of the time is, well, downright disrespectful. Imagine if it was someone else talking to you like this? Not very loving. Not what a true friend would say, to be sure.

I’m not here, because I’m over here. It’s true that I haven’t been blogging as much as usual. I could say I’ve  been really busy with work, which is also true, but ultimately that’s just an excuse. The real reason is I’ve been working on myself a lot lately. Exploring some spiritual stuff, working on managing my stress and taking better care of myself. Lots of things are working for me. I’ve stopped taking things so personally, which has always been one of my major flaws. I’m eating more healthy. I’m spending more time with my family, and around children, which always makes me feel good. But mostly, I’ve stopped.

In the midst of chaos…September is coming, and for many of us that means back to school, back to full time hours at work, back to all of those things that create chaos after the dog days of summer are past. It’s a time when we often fall off the wagon of taking care of ourselves, despite all of our best intentions.

Everyone has their own definition of chaos…here’s mine. I am working on the most challenging project of my career, and at the same time trying to build up business in other areas. School is starting in a few weeks, and I need to get planning my courses. I’ve got some really big plans for my students this year, to challenge them a lot, and really inspire them to achieve. I’m planning on doing some traveling, just short trips to Toronto and Montreal, but I need to fit that in. I need to honour my commitments to the SAW Video Co-op. I need to work in all the hours I have left with my friend to launch our labour of love web project by the end of September.

Shhhhh….If I’ve learned one thing this summer, it’s that the number one thing anyone can do to not feel overwhelmed in the midst of chaos is to stop. Be silent.

Many people automatically think silence means meditation. Not at all. There are many people I know who meditate every day and swear by it. Other people I know pray –  to Jesus, Buddha, Allah, the Universe, or whoever they most identify with. Others just light a candle in a dark room. Some go out in nature. I’ve done all these things, and still do many of them. But the point is, it’s about being silent. It’s about listening to your insides, and not paying attention to your outsides (and yes, this includes your own thoughts, which are ultimately outside of yourself). The more time you can spend being silent, the better off you will be.

All the cool kids are doing it. Have a problem? Don’t tell me you don’t. Every single one of us has at least one problem right now. Something that’s really bugging us. It goes over and over in our heads, but we never quite seem to get to a solution. Want to solve it? Stop. Be silent. Don’t allow yourself to think about the problem itself over and over and over again. Let it go. Put it in the hands of the Universe (or Jesus’, or Buddha’s, or the plant in the backyard’s….that part is your personal choice). Then wait. Watch what happens. Suddenly, it will occur to you how to solve it. Or the phone will ring, and the right thing will have happened to make the solution appear.

Stop fighting with your stress, your problems, your chaos. Fighting it is not going to make it go away. In fact, the objective is not to make it go away at all. Because challenges are part of life. It’s the path you are on. Instead of battling problems and chaos, work with them. And the best action you can take is to just stop. Get silent. Stop forcing the issue. Stop worrying.

If you don’t believe me, that’s fine. But just choose one thing. Just a small thing, if you like. Let that thing go. See what happens. You might just be surprised.

How do you deal with chaos?