Gallup recently released their latest annual update on the world’s emotional state and it shows that Americans’ Stress, Worry, and Anger Intensified in 2018. Highlights from the survey indicate that Americans are among the most stressed in the world. Nearly half of Americans are worried a lot, one in five are angry a lot, and younger Americans between the ages of 15 and 49 are among the most stressed, worried and angry.
When people feel stressed one of the main areas that is impacted in their life is their intimate relationships. So many clients come to me puzzled that they act their worst with those they love the most. I can relate. I have been humbled in this way myself in my marriage and even more embarrassingly with my daughters.
What can be done about these increasing levels of stress, worry, and anger and how do you minimize the negative impact on your relationships?
The key to suffering less and experiencing more inner freedom and peace of mind is understanding where suffering comes from. We are conditioned to believe that we are victims of our experiences of emotional suffering. We are told we get stressed, anxious, or angry because of things that happen to us. The prevailing belief is that outside circumstances or character defects within ourselves cause our upset.
When it looks this way, we work at trying to improve ourselves and our circumstances. Meditate more, balance your schedule, work harder and smarter, hold better boundaries … then you will feel better. There are so many things you can work on and an infinite amount of things you can do to improve yourself and your life, but they are not the source of happiness.
Happiness and peace of mind are your natural state. You come into the world present. You aren’t born worrying. As you grow up, the conceptual mind develops, you create a sense of self and along with it, an experience of separation from your natural state. Insecurity is inherent in the experience of a separate self. There is no fixing that, but there is no need to because it is a concept, not a truth.
The good news is that when you understand that the experience of insecurity is a normal part of the human condition, you can relax into your humanness and have compassion for yourself when you get lost in your insecure thoughts. Believing insecure thoughts is the source of stress and unwanted behaviors are the by-product of that. It is not people’s lives and circumstances that are making Americans more stressed. It is the misunderstanding of where stress comes from that creates more suffering.
Stress is an inside job. Believing insecure thoughts is the source of stress.
Insecure thoughts are not the enemy. We all have them. And you can have them without them having you when you understand they are temporary. They don’t mean anything. They are just an experience you have. Seeing this makes it easier to not take them seriously and to ride out the experience more gracefully. You are not a fixed state. Your experience is created in the moment. One moment you feel insecure and unworthy, the next moment you completely forget about yourself and feel free and at ease being in life.
They key here is seeing that when you are not in your mind you feel good, and when you are thinking about yourself and evaluating how you are doing, you experience some level of insecurity. When you forget about you, you lose the made-up concept of “I”, and you are free. You feel your natural state of happiness. When you remember the concept of “I” and the sense of a separate identity, you suffer. We all do this all day long. We go in and out of thinking about ourselves. We go in and out of being present in the moment.
This is how human experience works. There is no escaping being human.
Sydney Banks shared how we live in two worlds. The world of form and the world of the formless. Both are made of the same energy behind life. Understanding the world of form and our psychological nature helps us to navigate it more gracefully. We don’t need to change it when we understand it. We suffer less from our worry, stress, and anger when we understand they are the result of getting caught up in insecure thinking. When we see that our experience of insecurity is based on made-up ideas about life and ourselves, the insecure thoughts become less gripping. When we appreciate that we have a deeper nature beyond our constructed concepts, we can look beyond our personal thoughts in the direction of Source and Oneness. We identify less with our psychology which constantly changes, and more with the unchanging formless essence of who we really are. This is where the experience of okayness, safety, and security resides.
Experiencing your profound okayness independent of your emotions and circumstances is the key to having less stress and suffering. This is the solution.
Stress has nothing to do with your personality or what is going on in your life and everything to do with how much you take your insecure thoughts seriously. You can know you are okay even when you get caught up in insecure thoughts and have an insecure experience. You’re okay no matter what your emotional experience is. Having more perspective on your thoughts and feelings frees you up to be with what is more gracefully, no matter what your experience is. This will positively impact every area of your life, but in particular, it helps intimate relationships to be more graceful and enjoyable.
The quality of our experience in a relationship is always a reflection of our state of mind. We experience our own thoughts — our own state of mind — not the other person. Our hearts naturally open to ourselves as we understand that we live in a world of thought, but that is not all of who we are. It is only a small piece of a bigger picture. We will never comprehend the bigger picture, but it has a feeling quality that we recognize when we have less on our mind. Having the understanding that it exists allows us to identify less with the small self we create and look in the direction of the full self that simply is. Being with your humanity with an open-heart will have a ripple effect on all the relationships in your life.
The freedom experienced when you identify less with your thoughts, beliefs, and concepts allows you to experience your wellbeing. An open heart is a natural by-product of this. A little bit of understanding this goes a long way toward reducing stress and worry. With less stress and worry, there is less anger and navigating life and relationships becomes easier and more graceful.
Rohini Ross is co-founder of “The Rewilders.” Listen to her podcast, with her partner Angus Ross, Rewilding Love. They believe too many good relationships fall apart because couples give up thinking their relationship problems can’t be solved. In this season of the Rewilding Love Podcast, Rohini and Angus help a couple on the brink of divorce due to conflict. Angus and Rohini also co-facilitate private couples' intensives that rewild relationships back to their natural state of love. Rohini is also the author of the ebook Marriage, and she and Angus are co-founders of The 29-Day Rewilding Experience and The Rewilding Community. You can follow Rohini on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. To learn more about her work and subscribe to her blog visit: TheRewilders.org.