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?

8 Responses

  1. Glad to see Im not the only one who just wants to stop…..just for a while, keep things in prescriptive, but I get caught in school family, podcasting bloging, thanks for reminding me to be quite if evean for a bit.
    [rq=354038,0,blog][/rq]5 am

  2. Hi Sue,

    Wonderful post, I really enjoyed it!

    It has been said, by who, I’m not sure, being present exist between thoughts in that space where silence lives. Where you can BE without thought, without expectation, and without judgment. : )
    [rq=354046,0,blog][/rq]William Ricketts Sanctuary

  3. Last night, in fact. I sat at the dinning room table for close to two hours shelling and peeling pistachios for a new recipe I want to try. I sat there while Joe played on his computer around the corner, in silence. My silence.

    And it’s not that I was even thinking much, either. I wasn’t. In fact, I tried not to. I wanted to concentrate on getting all of the skins off the nuts. But certain thoughts would pop in and out of my head whether I wanted them to or not. Nothing new, just the same ones I have been having for almost a year now. I’m still dealing, still processing it all. I don’t often get time to do that at work. I start, but then someone always interrupts me.

    Oh, sure, there were lots of other things I should have been doing last night like power walking, cleaning, calling my mother, but shelling pistachios to store them in a mason jar was what I wanted, and needed, at that point in my life.

  4. I often suffer with these very problems. I’m not there because I’m here. The inner demon speaks about blogging, video making, and review writing. Then there’s the other part that says I don’t take enough time to just relax.

    So many of my online and off line associates are busy busy people. I wonder how they do it all without being stressed out. Sometimes I pay attention though and realize they are all stressed, the ones with the uber busy lives. I don’t want that.

    Good share. Thanks for making me think about this again.
    [rq=355130,1,blog][/rq]Dad-o-matic on Good Morning America

  5. Thank you for taking the time to share a very soothing piece of advice, a piece of advice I fear I’ve struggled to make my own. Chaos started when I was in college, as I slowly became overwhelmed and struggled to manage the tasks on my to do list. I’m one of those people who hate letting go, who strives to find every ounce of excellence within me…and when I don’t, I think about it over and over and over again. I’ve never taken the time to be silent, absorb what’s happening within me to grow, learn and move forward. I need to do a better job of focusing on that silence and work with the chaos instead of against it. I’ll start by committing a few minutes of silence every day; I’ll see how it goes. Great post!
    [rq=364662,0,blog][/rq]Putting a Plan into Action

  6. So much of what you’re writing here, I can relate to, Suze. I’ve been pondering along similar lines over the last week or so.

    Trying to learn the unforced rhythms of work and play and rest, amidst the stress and chaos of too many good things filling up my life, and a thorny problem or two layered on top of that.

    There’s a place for still and stopped and silent. There’s a place for the whirlwind. For me, knowing WHEN it’s time to switch gears is the tricky part! 🙂
    [rq=373006,0,blog][/rq]Eighteen on Eighteen

  7. Suze,

    Thank you for a very timely post. I’ve recently been diagnosed with diverticulitis and my GP thinks that my stress levels are the culprit. Hearing him recite back to me the litany of chaotic events going on in my life was quite an eye-opener.

    I’ve always thrived on chaos, but it has finally bitten me back. So as I was leaving the doctors office I decided to do exactly what you are suggesting in this post, I’m letting go of my stressors.

    Last year at this time I was employed and I thought the future with that company was going to be long and fruitful. A week later I was unemployed. I found work and work also found me so we made it through with hardly any scratches. I found work in a corporate environment – a totally foreign world to me with it’s politics and back stabbing and stress over doing the right thing. I’ve decided that if this doesn’t work out – que sera sera. Something else will come along.

    So thanks Suze for re-inforcing the notion of just letting go. When you can succeed at letting go, it really does work.
    [rq=384479,0,blog][/rq]The “New” Google – Codename Caffeine

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