I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was owned by the drinking water.
Let me explain.
When I lived on the farm with my parents, the well water that we drank was very distinct. The water was good and it had a certain taste and…heaviness? (it’s the best word I can come up with). Oftentimes, our visitors would comment on how good our coffee and tea tasted.
And that water made the best iced tea!
When I moved out of my parents’ house, I would come visit on the weekends and haul home water from the farm to drink for the week because I didn’t like drinking water other than the farm water. This didn’t seem like much of a chore; it was just something I did, something I needed to do, I never thought anything much of it. But that farm well water owned me.
When my parents moved off the farm to their new house a few years ago, they got a different water source. I had to get used to drinking different water. After some time, I grew my ability to drink different water and eventually I was able to drink the water at the their new house and the water at my own house, without complaints.
Now I realize just how limited I was then and how free I am now! Presently, I can drink water at restaurants and any bottled water. And I don’t have to haul water anymore, saving me time, effort, and space that the big jug used to take up.
Realizing this made me see the parallel with stress management. When it comes to stress, there are 2 ways to deal with triggers: avoid them or grow from them.
Avoiding triggers takes energy, effort, and constant vigilance, (even if you don’t realize it) because you don’t always know when the trigger will show up and how exactly you’re going to get around it when it does.
For example, avoiding the trigger looks like this: if driving alone triggers fear in you, you either have to stay home, walk or bike everywhere, get rides to places and find rides back. It’s just what you have to and need to do in order to avoid driving alone. While it isn’t bad to be afraid of driving alone, and while it might not seem like much of a chore, it is limiting. Your fear of driving owns you.
If being out in public places with a lot of people triggers anxiety in you, you either have to avoid public places (and your anxiety owns you) or you grow (and you set yourself free). You grow by practicing going out in places with somewhat smaller crowds, then try going to places with somewhat bigger crowds, gradually growing your ability to tolerate public places with more and more people. Then you’ll be free from the energy drain, the vigilance and the anxiety.
Sure, this takes some energy now, but the long term energy savings is well worth the small investment now.
As with my water-drinking habits, sometimes you don’t know how limited you are until you set yourself free.
Where am I limiting myself?
What would freedom look like?
Here’s to conquering stress.
The Stress Experts
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