Calm Waters

by Beth Haley

Every day we encounter situations that we have the opportunity to respond to in a positive and calm way. On the other hand, we can live reactively, by going into anxiety, fear or stress. However, our happiness and health depend a great deal upon how well we can manage our emotional responses, reactions, mental perceptions and beliefs.

We all know that continuous emotional stress is hard on our bodies. So really, being able to regulate our emotions and develop self-coping/soothing practices may very well save our life. Developing the ability to walk through our everyday circumstances in a calm and clear-headed manner, can get us farther than fighting battles we don’t need to fight, or by running when we need to calmly stand.

Imagine that you are connected to the most sophisticated and sensitive machine (like a polygraph) ever made. It measures your feelings of stress, anxiety, or fear. If you feel even the slightest bit of these emotions while you are hooked up to this machine, it will deliver a shock which will end your life.

The thing is, if you make it through the test, you win a million dollars. So with this in mind (death or a substantial prize), imagine that you are hooked up to this machine and your test is about to begin. Your directions are as follows: Imagine a situation in your life that brought/brings you anxiety, fear, or stress. If you can stay completely calm and relaxed, you will win the prize. If not… ZING!

The next time you’re about to jump on the “Anxiety, Fear, and Stress Express,” remind yourself of the choice between the zing or the prize. It’s not just an interesting exercise. It is the training and retraining of our minds.

We don’t actually need the “fight or flight” response all that often. Maybe if you’re being chased by a bear? Were you chased by a bear today? Some of us are so used to living with stressed-out emotions, we don’t even know how to let ourselves be calm, at ease, grounded, centered and at peace. Let alone shut it all down to even rest.


Hooked on adrenaline and stress much?


The choice is ours. Will we have an internal forecast of calm today ? Or, “fight or flight?”

My choice today is to win the cash prize of self-possessed calm, and avoid the zing of the machine.

What does stress solve? Zing! What does anxiety fix? Zing! What does fear prevent? Zing!

Breathe! The chances are really, really good that you are not currently being chased by a bear – and that whatever you are facing, will be easiest to handle with a calm and clear mind.


Sources: The Mindfulness & Acceptance Workbook for Anxiety -Forsyth and Eifert

Photos by Faye Cornish and Harli Martin

7 Comments

  1. Kim Smyth

    Let go and let God is what I usually have to do, pray about the situation. What’s hard for me is that I have to learn that I can’t be in control of every person, place, or thing-you’re right though, stressing out doesn’t solve anything.

    Liked by 1 person

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