The renowned psychologist Carl Rogers noted that people are often unhappy because of a lack of congruence in their lives, which is another way of saying momentary complexity blinds us to the simple solutions of life. For Rogers, simply sitting with a patient and having them talk through their problems, without the therapist leading them or making judgments or giving advice, was the best way for them to let go of their problems. Rogers determined that when you give a person a safe and supportive space to think through things, they tend to do so more effectively.
Right now, I want to give you a safe and supportive space to think, so you can let go of any extra baggage that’s been weighing you down. Try this: pause for a second to notice what’s going on in your body. Are your jaw muscles clenched? Are your shoulders or neck tightened? Do you notice a part of your body holding on to tension—perhaps tension fueled by something you’re subconsciously worried about?
Most of us are holding tension in our bodies and stress in our minds, whether we realize it or not.
Why are we doing this to ourselves? Why do we get tense, stressed, anxiety-ridden, and feel generally overwhelmed by life?
It’s because life isn’t the flawless, calm, controllable experience we’d like it to be. We want things to be easy, comfortable, and picture-perfect 24/7. Unfortunately, reality is often the opposite. Bad things happen. Work is stressful. People let us down. We make mistakes and let ourselves down. We aren’t as proficient and disciplined as we’d hope to be. And life continues to frustrate us because there’s just so much to do and absorb and process.
The problem isn’t life, or other people, or even ourselves. The problem is our propensity to hold on to what we want everything and everyone to be, in order for life to be good enough for us.
Our attachments to our ideals accelerates tension in our bodies and stress in our lives
And our reluctance to let go and accept things as they are is the root of our problems.
Of course, we don’t want to feel this way, so we try to avoid what we’re going through. We distract ourselves with alcohol or TV or social media or whatever, which only makes matters worse.
Angel and I have a ton of firsthand experience in this arena. A decade ago when we were coping with the back-to-back loss of her brother, Todd, and our mutual best friend, Josh, to death, the amount of tension and stress in…