Got Back to Work Stress? Try this Practice
By John J. Murphy
You turn on the daily news and hear about more businesses slowly reopening. You wonder when you will be going back to work. And then you wonder if you will be going back to work. After all, a lot of people are getting permanently furloughed these days. Or, maybe you are already back to work and you wonder how you will lead your team with poise and confidence when a lot of people are anxious and afraid, just like you. How can a fearful leader inspire anyone? Inspiration comes from spirit, not fear.
You ask your husband how he is doing, and he says little, quickly returning to another mindless distraction on his phone. He is anxious, too. You call a friend for support, but you cannot help but get lost discussing the latest afflictions around the world. You hear words like pandemic and economic crisis to fuel the frenzy even more. How does this make you feel? Are you stressed when you think these thoughts? And what about the actual virus? What are we supposed to do about that? People are getting sick and dying. What is a mindful leader meant to do about the increasing risks and uncertainties surrounding us? We need more protection and security, right? Or, maybe not! Maybe that’s adding more panic to the pandemic. Maybe we just need to lighten up a little bit. But how?
Outside the Box Perspective
My insights on these challenges may surprise you. Most “outside the box” perspectives do. This is because they come from outside a paradigm that you do not even know you’re in. In this case, it is the ego box – a fear-based, dualistic thought system that dictates right and wrong, us and them, good and bad, and countless other dichotomies. Don’t sweat it. Every human being on this planet can relate to it. We call it human nature. We see ourselves as separate people all trying to protect ourselves. We compete and compare. We divide and conquer. We attack and defend. We win and we lose. This is how the ego is designed to work. And we know we are attached to this thought-system, this paradigm or “box,” whenever we feel anxious and afraid, guilty, sad, angry, or prideful. This is the ego doing its job. It is the ego causing our back-to-work anxiety and stress. It is the ego projecting negativity and doubt onto the future we envision. It is the ego feeding on the daily news of one catastrophe after another. It is the ego thriving on gossip, drama, criticism, and condemnation. It is the ego demanding security and gain in a zero-sum game.
Here is the good news. We have an alternative thought-system available to us and an entirely different way to live our lives. We can transcend fear and doubt, anger, hostility, worry, and stress – by transcending the thought-system that creates it. Think of this like upgrading the operating system on your computer and eliminating all the viruses that were sabotaging the old one. We can let go to let flow.
But take note. We cannot solve these anxiety problems sustainably from inside the box that causes them. Managing stress from inside the operating system that causes the stress might suppress it temporarily, but it will not delete it. You can hit the gym or the yoga mat or the pub all you want but the symptoms will return. The key is to get to the root cause. This is what I believe this quote, often attributed to Albert Einstein, means, “The significant problems we face today cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.” We need to think at a radically different level. We need to transition from fear, ego, and grief to gratitude. We cannot experience fear and true inner peace at the same time. It is one or the other. Period. It is only when we are truly inspired, that we feel fearless and free.
So, try a new paradigm – an “outside the box” perspective that eliminates anxiety, fear, and doubt by dismissing the root cause. Consider that while you are living in your body you can dial into different frequencies, just like you can a radio dial. You can tune into negative gossip, addictive drama, and fear-based thinking, or you can rise above this with unconditional love, appreciation, joy, and forgiveness, despite what is going on around you. You can be the one who lights up the room and brings inspiration and hope to the naysayers of the world. Or you can join in the doom and gloom that appeals to the ego. This choice is yours to make. This is what being an outside the box perspective and letting go is all about. It is about tuning into an entirely different thought-system and vibration. It is about reconnecting with who and what you truly are and who you want to be.
Practice: How Do You Look at the World?
To return to the radio metaphor, now consider that we attract frequencies that match the signal we are sending. So, for example, misery loves company. Pay attention to this the next time you witness a group of people complaining about anything. There is always something to complain about if we look for it. We find what we seek. We reap what we sow. What goes around comes around. Pay attention to this. It has been happening since the beginning of humankind. Peace is not something that happens “out there” occasionally. It is a state of mind – your state of mind, ever-present and always available. Change your mind and you can change your world. Tune into peace, and you will come to recognize the peace in your life.
Take a moment now to stop and examine your signal, your heart coherence. What attitude or energy are you sending out into the world? What are you calling for – energetically? Now pay attention to the answer. It is how you are feeling right now. We do indeed reap what we sow. These issues do not go away, but working to see positive moments and actions in the world, and bringing positivity to your own interactions, whether at home, at work, or at the grocery store can help you feel less stressed.
John Murphy is an author, speaker, entrepreneur, business consultant, and coach and has been for over 30 years. He has traveled as many as 51 weeks out of 52, teaching in dozens of countries around the world, with languages and cultures he knew little about.
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