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When stressful situations arise…

December 22, 2009

I was reading Zen Habits on my Google reader this evening as I was thinking about getting ready for bed, and Leo was answering some questions posed by his readers.

This question and answer struck a chord with me:

If for a moment you start to feel overwhelmed by the complexities of life, how do you simplify to get where you want to be? (via @TroyAustria)

Take a deep breath, and let all the chaos and frustration flow out of you. Focus not all all the things you need to do, or that are coming up, or that have happened, but on what you’re doing right now. And just focus on doing one thing, right now.

I would take a walk, get some fresh air, and get some perspective. Try to think about what’s most important to you, what your perfect life would be like, what your perfect day would look like.

Then, one small step at a time, start making it happen. What’s standing in the way? What can you change right now? What can you change tomorrow? What long-term changes can you start making?

This resonates with me particularly because I get overwhelmed fairly easily, especially when I’ve been working on a project and I think that I might have done something “wrong.” Two of the things I struggle most with right now are fear of failure and fear of disappointing others, which, to me, are almost the same fear, just in two different flavors.

But I also get overwhelmed with the number of choices that I have for my future, and what I want to do for my career, and I get overwhelmed by the sense that I’m not where I “should be” by this point in my life. I’m twenty-six and I want to have kids by the time I’m thirty and the Husband wants to go to grad school and is there time for both and, and, and.

And I know taking a deep breath helps, so I do that, but some of the other things he suggests and the questions he recommends are especially prescient as I sit here, pondering life in the twilight time between awake and asleep. I will definitely add those questions and processes into my daily ruminations.

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