Handling Pressure Like a True Champ!

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by life’s daily stresses? Do you sometimes feel that there isn’t enough time in the day to take care of everything that needs to be done? Do you ever get the impression that you’re being cooked, boiled, roasted, grilled and baked by the day’s unforgiving agenda? I know. We’re living in a high-pressure world where stress is considered normal. We inhabit a strange realm where we consider it normal to wear our anxieties like a badge of office. It’s how we show the world how grown-up we are.

There are times when we stop, we sit still. We listen and breezes from a whole other world begin to whisper. – James Carroll

And there’s more. Have you ever noticed – and we’re talking about real-life examples of living, breathing dysfunctional behaviour here – that most of the role models we use for examples of adult conduct in our culture usually involve very serious-looking people with painful expressions on their faces? As if they’re carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders? Or the weight of their own sense of self-importance? Have you ever noticed that? Think about it for a moment. The people we associate with being grown up inevitably look stressed, tired, worried and anxious. What an inspiring set of positive examples for us to model our behaviour on as we aspire to achieve fully fledged adult maturity!

Clearly, as depression becomes one of the most widespread and fastest-growing causes of illness in the modern world, we’re undoubtedly looking in the wrong direction for our role models.

Breath is the power behind all things. I breathe in and know that good things will happen. – Tao Porchon-Lynch

It might seem very odd when you think about it, but we tend to associate success with heightened levels of stress, tension and anxiety. Perhaps it’s no surprise that we unconsciously gravitate towards these behaviours as we grow up and take on the heavy mantle of responsibility that we associate with adulthood.

These behaviours, the way we unconsciously respond to the world around us, are deeply rooted in our early childhood conditioning. That’s the time when we’re most impressionable. That’s when we absorb many of the enduring impressions from our social environment that programme us for our future behaviour. Even into adulthood.

Fortunately, there are many alternatives to this stressful, inefficient and harmful way of living. Does that mean we need to quit the day job to make life easier? No. Not at all.

The answer is to adjust the way we respond to external events that trigger our stress in the first place.

Within you, there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself. – Hermann Hesse

Breathing is a fabulous place to launch this timely and necessary revolution for a happier, stronger and more pleasant way of living and it may well be one of the most underrated methods you can use to defuse and neutralise your stress. There’s a very impressive amount of evidence that supports the value of deeper breathing as a truly effective means to lower stress levels. People are usually surprised and dismissive of breath control because it’s such an alien concept within our culture. But, once you learn to harness its extraordinary potential, you can introduce profound changes to your body, your thought processes and your emotional condition – all within a few moments. Simply by taking a few deeper breaths and giving yourself a chance to calm down, to feel centred and tune into your natural creativity. Yes, that’s right. Just by breathing more slowly, more deeply and with a growing sense of calm, you can adjust your stress levels and learn to see your situation in a fresh, new light.

Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor. – Thích Nhất Hạnh

Most of the stresses and pressures that we encounter every day are a product of our imagination. The situations themselves do not contain any emotional energy whatsoever. They are simply situations. We are the ones – the only ones – who add all the emotional content. Think about that for a moment. We’re the sole source of the stresses, anxieties, fears and negative energy. These feelings only exist because we produce them – and then attach them to whatever’s going on around us.

It all happens so quickly that it’s very easy to miss the moment when we generate the knee-jerk reactions and attach them to the external event. Then, we assume that it must be the event that’s producing the reaction. But it isn’t. The event has no power to make us feel anything. We have to decide to react in a very specific manner and that’s the key to disengaging from this very destructive form of emotional slavery.

As you learn to pause before reacting, you become increasingly aware that you have the power to choose exactly how you want to feel. That brief moment of hesitation before you engage the old habit of reacting automatically endows you with the gift of determining your precise emotional response. You can, if you wish, choose to remain calm and detached, withholding your emotional energy because it serves no useful purpose in resolving the issue that confronts you. This is the pathway to inner peace, heightened self-awareness, greater self-control and freedom from your old, conditioned reflexes. It’s a powerful alternative to the high-pressured, frowning, scowling impression of adulthood that too many of us mistake for maturity.

Calmness is the Cradle of Power – Josiah Gilbert Holland