A third option

With Christmas around the corner and a long hot summer looming here in Australia, there are a lot of stressy people bouncing around out there. I am not looking forward to the coming weeks and I have a fairly stress-free existence. I get it; life is busy and people drive slow in the fast lane like they own it and you’re not allowed to ram them with your bumper.

December has always been a pretty tough month for me with some heavy anniversaries early on in the month and our very hectic work schedule that coincides with the holidays. Our wedding anniversary is on the 26th and I chose that day all those years ago because I thought we’d always have time to celebrate it. #Firstworldstruggle alert – we never do, because our business is chaos at that time of the year.

But stress, so I keep telling myself, is a choice. We’ve all got shit to do so we can choose to just do it with a smile or a grimace! Stress is not an emotion but a feeling of tension either emotionally or physically but the way we bandy the word around, you’d think it was emotion numero uno. Someone clever once said stress is the desire to be there when we’re here, or here when we’re there and it always has an underlying emotion. I say I’m stressed when I’m sad about having to go to work because I am not a famous writer. I say I’m stressed when I’m annoyed about being in a slow line at the bank. (I’m basically a massive whinger.)

We need to let our wisdom not our mood dictate our routine

Dr Jenny Taitz

I learnt today that Expression and Repression are not our only options when it comes to emotions. Who knew that we didn’t have the choice to either act out our anger or grief, or suck it up into a little hard ball in our stomachs? I was never very good at acting out; I wasn’t allowed to get angry when I was a kid. Dr Frank Ostaseski explained in the Untangle podcast that there’s such a thing as Containing emotion, feeling it, sitting with it, observing it, holding it. How freeing to know that our ‘triggers’ don’t have to send us into a spiral of expression and how healing to think that there are ways to experience the emotion internally without denying ourselves the feelings altogether.

Paliative care specialist, Dr Ostaseski, outlines his 5 Invitations to live with joy and sorrow, and live a rich life filled with love. Because that’s all the dying ever want to know, according to Ostaseski; am I loved and did I love enough?

Frank’s Five Invitations

  1. Don’t wait: This is about engaging with life fully from moment to moment. (EMOTIONS included.)
  2. Welcome everything. Push away nothing: There must be a willingness to meet things, even if they cannot be changed.
  3. Bringing your whole self to the experience: We often focus on getting rid of our grief and suffering, but bringing these into the equation is a positive way of engaging fully with an experience.
  4. Find a place of rest in the middle of things: We are addicted to being busy. We need to be still and rest in the midst of being busy.
  5. Cultivate a “don’t know” mind: If we know everything, or act like we do, we are closed to any new information, experience, or relationship. Cultivating a “don’t know mind” is crucial for growth.

There’s so much pressure on people now to outwardly express their emotions these days, especially on social media. I was always so afraid strong emotions would overwhelm me and I am jealous of cultures that have rituals around monumental life events like grief or childbirth. I’ve experienced the isolation and confusion of both and I wish I’d known all those years ago how to contain, how to hold, how to sit with an emotion. Might come in handy in the Christmas traffic.

Feature Photo by Samuel Austin on Unsplash


      1. equinoxio21

        No. 🙂 I have my own personal reservations about the whole hyper-comsumerist shove products down your throat thing… (Had to go to the local department store this morning for an indispensable gift purchase. After an hour my eyes begin burning in those stores…) (But found what I wanted and left running)

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