Break Through Your Threshold: Stress is a Choice
By Jai Maa
Stress is a choice. Even when life throws situations in undesired directions, you absolutely have a choice in how to respond.
“Oh no! We missed the alarm!” My partner yelled, startling me out of a deep sleep. I stayed up all night packing for a Ted Talk inspired “Walk The Talk” event where I would speak in front of hundreds of people, and was recovering from a sinus infection that took my voice away. I was afraid of sounding like a frog on stage and, now, I would miss my flight. Calculating the time it would take to get to the airport, we would arrive exactly 15 minutes before my plane would depart. My nervous system electrified with stress.
“We have to at least try!” I said in a panic. We bolted toward the door and raced down the dusty corn-field roads of Kansas. On top of everything that seemed to be going wrong, my phone was also broken, so I had printed my tickets the night before. Since the Kansas City airport was small, maybe there was a chance I could make it, even though I didn’t know my gate number.
We asked our angels to arrive us safely as we flew down the interstate. My inner critical mind silently took over:
I knew I should have gotten insurance on my plane ticket. I should have checked the alarm to make sure it was on high volume, so I wouldn’t sleep through it going off. Why didn’t my partner hear the alarm? If I miss my flight, I’ll have to chuck up more money I wasn’t planning on spending!
Worrisome thoughts rattled through my head and my body clinched from shallow breathing.
Gazing out the window feeling upset for making this mistake, the thought hit me that stress is a choice. We were doing our best to get to airport in time, and how I felt was entirely up to me. I examined the underlying reason for why I was freaking out and realized it was the same thing that causes all of my stress: attachment to a particular outcome.
I was attached to making my flight on time. I was attached to not having to spend more money on another flight. I was attached to making it to my speaking gig on time.
I took a deep breath and said out loud, “Everything is always working out for me,” which I borrowed from the famous Law of Attraction author, Abraham-Hicks. Once I surrendered and softened, I felt free to engage in a loving conversation with my partner about our upcoming traveling adventures. I would have missed out on this sweet exchange had I chosen to spend my time being shut down or emotionally reactive, neither of which are conducive for a healthy partnership.
I made it in line just as my plane was boarding, and my voice completely came back before walking on stage. Everything is always working out for me!
For the week I spent in Indiana, I was presented with more opportunities to practice the notion that stress is a choice. At every unnerving recalibration of events, I took a deep breath, surrendered the outcome, and affirmed, “Everything is always working out for me.” And it always did.
While flying back to Kansas, my connecting flight was delayed for an hour and a half. I opened up and said, “Since everything is always working out for me, how is this recalibration a gift?” I popped open my laptop, and relished in the opportunity to get some important work done. Feeling satisfied from completed business, I treated myself to an ice cream and chatted with a sweet lady next to me. A feeling crept over me that something was off.
“Excuse me for a minute. I’ll be right back, I just need to check on my flight,” I said and dashed over to the boarding counter.
I had made another mistake and missed my connecting flight! Once again, stress attempted to take over my mind and body, but I immediately responded, “Everything is always working out for me,” and calmed down. I was given a ticket to another gate that would board in thirty minutes, so I went back to the table where the sweet lady sat to finish my ice cream.
When I laughed about missing my flight, she asked, “Don’t you need to rush to your next gate?” “Nope. I’m going to finish my ice cream,” I said as I sat down.
“Wow, I would be completely stressed if I were in your position!”
“Stress is a choice,” I smiled, and she looked at me as if she had never considered that idea before.
When I arrived to my next gate, that plane was also delayed. “Everything is always working out for me,” I affirmed, beaming with delight of my mastery. I popped open my romance novel, excited to get caught up on the juicy love drama I was reading. I was eating these little stress monsters for lunch and they had no control over my peace.
When I finally landed in Kansas more than three hours later than my original arrival time, my partner had just pulled into the terminal. Because of life’s recalibrations and my so-called mistakes, he was able to attend a special event he wanted to experience, but would have missed had I arrived “on time.” Had life and our choice to respond to the abrupt changes been any other way, our drive home could have been full of whining and complaining. Instead, he was glowing with inspiration from the event, and I was poised with unshakable peace from my opportunities to master surrender. Everything is always working out for us!
Enlightenment Challenge: When life recalibrates, whether unexpectedly or because you made a mistake, notice if you are choosing stress. Are you willing to surrender attachment to a particular outcome and choose peace instead? Try affirming at every twist and turn of events that: “Everything is always working out for me.”
Jai Maa will be a guest speaker and workshop presenter at the upcoming Earthdance Florida Festival in Lake Wales Sept. 21-23. For tickets visit EarthdanceFlorida.org.