It’s Not That Bad (And Other Lies You Tell Yourself)

Stress. It’s that generational buzzword we broadly attribute to all manner of facing complexities in the first-world. We have a great reverence for stress.  We wear it almost like a badge of honor. “I am stressed, therefore I must somehow be important.”

Once we have diagnosed ourselves as “stressed,” we can tap into a vast network of “coping mechanisms” to handle said stress. Solutions range from the healthy–exercise, meditation, going out with friends, watching television, to the unhealthy–drinking, drugs, avoidance, overeating, violence, etc. Any modern American knows these well.

But, the problem with these coping mechanisms, is that that is all they are–a means to cope. So, you are sitting in the movie theater with your five best friends, watching a really funny movie and you can almost physically feel the tension leaving your body like a deflating balloon. You sit in the dark, and you think, “You know, it’s not that bad. Sometimes, life is just life. I’m taking myself too seriously.” And you laugh at all the funny parts, and you let it go.

Or, you read one of those great motivational books that we are so good at writing in our culture, and we all get pumped up. “Life is all a matter of perspective,” you say. “I am in charge of my own destiny. I will conquer.”

You float around all night on a cloud of happiness. You wake up in the morning and lazily stretch and rise, waltzing around like Cinderella humming through her morning ablutions…when suddenly…BAM! Reality hits.

It wasn’t just an overreaction. It wasn’t just you taking yourself too seriously. This isn’t in your head. The problems are real. And big. And you have no idea how to fix them.

The night before fades away, and by lunchtime you are a basket case again. You stare at your club sandwich paralyzed, and totally overwhelmed with anxiety. Then someone comes along and gives you the sweetest little pep talk. And, it lifts your spirits…until…

Stress. No amount of positive thinking, motivational speaking, or aromatherapy candles can fix the things we can’t control. It can just give us the gusto to face them for a short while.

And then what? And what good does that do?


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