Give yourself space to sit with it

My wife and I just did something tough. Don’t worry, it’s not detrimental or fatal— everyone’s fine healthy, and together. It was regarding our daughter and her school and possibly having to switch schools mid-year as a kindergartner.

Ugh… The anxiety of a parent is unceasing.

We really thought she was in the right place. During her short five years on this planet, we’ve moved her so much from town to town and from school to school. We wanted this school to be the one she could stay at for a long time. We saw her growing roots and finding friends and all the good things.

And we really like the people there. The founder’s heart is in the right place. But it just hasn’t been a great fit. It’s a great school, just maybe not… for her. And so, here we go, looking to uproot her again.

She’s resilient. She’s kinda looking forward to a move (though it’s hard to say). But were we throwing in the towel too soon? Should she (and us) learn resilience by sticking it out? Was this decision fear-based or faith-based?

Right when I pressed ‘send’ on a very pivotal email in the process, all the emotions rolled in.

As good as we felt about this decision to make a switch, I also felt… Sad. And nervous. And guilty. And confused.

I hate change. I hate conflict. And this move brought an intensity of both.

Immediately, I wanted to distract myself.

Reach for the phone. Jump into those emails that have been sitting there. Check the Instagram feed. Anything but feel this…

(And my story here is mild — think about the really heavy stuff that befalls us in life. The temptation to distract ourselves from our emotions are all the more present in the midst of great external turmoil and upheaval.)

I had to be with this as it moved through. I had to head into the inner desert and sit there for a while.

I resisted the urge to grab the phone and instead, I laid on the sofa and tried to let go of trying to figure it out. Instead, I just let it all show up — any emotion was welcome.

It was so uncomfortable, but oh so necessary.

How often do we do this? I sure don’t do it enough. Our modern world is wrought with so many distractions.

That thing in your pocket has an endless number of seemingly urgent things to easily address and resolve rather than tending to the swirling energies of your emotional landscape in the moment.

We don’t give ourselves time to just… sit. To rewind through our day — through our week or year — and process what we’ve been too distracted and busy to process. To tie up whatever loose ends lie unattended to and release to God what needs to be released.

Please, give that time to yourself. Yes, you’ll want to fill it instead with screen time or addressing the extraneous drama of the moment that fills your need to be busy. So be kind to yourself if you give in to these temptations. But it’s worth the emotional labor to resist checking off those boxes and tending to those notifications so you can just sit with the stuff swirling around in your belly.

On the other end is a nice, deep breath that cleanses the soul and brings new life.

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The exploration towards a place we’ve never left

Photo by Nathan Dumlao

We humans want a lot of things. In fact, our list is a couple notches away from infinite.

Especially since the dawn of big scale advertising. We’re always just one purchase away from utter happiness and an amazing life. Funny how the carrot never gets any closer when we view life through that lens.

But I digress…

I want to share a quote from T.S. Eliot.

Do yourself a favor and pour some coffee. I’d love for you to allow yourself to sit with this one for awhile. Because in this one little sentence, he speaks volumes of eternal truth about the human condition.

Got that coffee?
Okay…

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time. 
 — T.S. Eliot

Go ahead and read that one again. 
Maybe even a few times. 
No rush, I’ll wait…

Eliot sums up the spiritual journey perfectly.

We were born at home, have never left, and yet we’re still searching for it. The ego part of ourselves take front stage and is hell bent on the search. On finding the answers.

But a bigger part of ourselves stands back with a puzzled (but loving) look on its face. It knows that no answers are necessary. Because there is no test.

You and I are at home in ourselves at every moment. No matter how far away from it we think we are.

When our frantic thoughts fall away — for even a moment — we feel that warm inner fire that beats our hearts. And we see that as much as our ego has been playing massive games of make believe in the back yard, we’ve never left our mother’s gaze.

So, welcome home?

Sure feels like it, right?


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On receiving instead of planning

Image: Chad Madden

We’re a planning sort of species...

Even for those of us who may not consciously think so, if we look at ourselves closely, most of us see we micromanage our entire lives in our heads. We place demands on the world and ourselves and when things don’t go as-planned, we get angry. Even when they DO go as-planned, we often find ourselves disappointed or unimpressed.

It’s a no-win situation. One that we put ourselves in time and time again.

See, this planning from our small selves is based on fear. It says we don’t trust the intelligence of Life as it unfolds, so we have to constantly intervene and make it right. Our ego bolsters the vision in our minds of how amazing our plans are, but in reality, they nearly always fall short of our expectations (if they even happen in the first place).

But this little nugget flips the entire notion on its head…


Receive instead of plan. Open your life up to more than your small self could plan for.


Yes, you’re going to plan. You’re likely going to wake up at a certain time. You’re going to drive a certain direction to work. You might go to the gym and get into your program.

I’m not talking about this. I’m talking about the constant humming of stress, worry, and fear that resides in the background of our mind when we’re not even conscious of it. I’m talking about the never-ending game of chess we play with ourselves, our loved ones, and the world at large when the answers are staring us in the face.

This is a tough leap, dropping this constant gamesmanship so we can receive from Life as it unfolds…

We must believe the unknown is benevolent. We must know that we could be receiving constant help from life if we could shut our small selves up and open ourselves to receiving it. And we have to know that we’re not alone.

Life is a giant feedback loop that’s trying to get our attention. The thing is, we fail to see the subtle signals that happen within us and around us at all times. We fail to trust Life, so we make the feeble attempt of doing it all ourselves.

Receiving is what most of us need to practice. Receiving implies that something is being given and it takes a willingness to accept what is given.

This willingness is what we’ve likely been withholding from Life.


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The ‘stop, drop, and float’ method to stress-management

Image: Luke Porter

Here’s how this works…

Something we deem as ‘bad’ happens.

Our thoughts about it filter through consciousness, bringing the experience to life.

Since we don’t see it as thought (changeable), and instead see it as circumstance (unchangeable), we start to stress.

This leads to more dysfunctional thoughts, emotions, etc. — all of a sudden, we’re laying in the fetal position on the floor in a scattered heap of Cheetos as we yell to Siri, “Siri — search for Eckhart Tolle on YouTube!” to bring us back into the ‘Now’ (or is that just me?).

Here’s my message today:

Don’t try to ‘fix it’ from there.

When we’re in a low-mood state, it means we’re in a low state of consciousness from crappy thinking.

Trying to ‘fix ourselves’ from this place just means adding more shitty thoughts to the heap of dysfunctional thoughts we’ve already amassed.

When you’re feeling stressed, don’t fix… Float.

See, when you’re stressed, you’re like a cork that’s being held down by dysfunctional thinking.

Stop thinking. Drop the thoughts. Release your grip and allow yourself to float to the surface. You’re not ‘doing’ anything. It’s an undoing you’re after here. You’re not trying to figure anything out, you’re just… releasing.

When we calm our thinking, we can gravitate to a higher level of well being.

Our stressed emotional state (or any other negative emotion, at that) is like the warning light on our car telling us that something’s wrong.

Trying to tackle the stress directly is like taking a sledgehammer to the warning light in your car, trying to fix the problem.

The problem isn’t the light. The problem is what’s causing the light to turn on (in our case — our dysfunctional thinking, which is lowering our level of consciousness).

So, when you’re stressed, don’t fix the stress. Stop. Drop. And float.

If you do this, your mood WILL change. Your level of consciousness WILL rise. Your stressful thinking will vanish into the ether of which it originated, and your innate wellbeing will return.

That’s when you can take action.

Creativity: The ultimate stress-killer

When does stress usually show up? For me, it’s when I believe that the outside world is concrete, unchanging, and — of course — eager to attack me.

Sound close enough for you, too?

A root emotion of stress is helplessness. When we feel cornered, we go into fight/flight/freeze/appease-mode. Survival instincts kick in and all of a sudden, we’re base primates again.

Pass the bananas, please. Thank you.

So, that said, what makes for a good stress-killer?

Sure, you could turn to the stuff that’ll only make your life worse (all the usual suspects), but a simple understanding will work much better. That understanding is this…

You are inherently creative (yes, you).

I bang the drum pretty hard on this, but I can’t say it enough.

There may be no creative answers/solutions to your ailment present at this very moment (if there was, you wouldn’t be stressed, right?).

But know this…

Creativity is not just something we conjure when we’re finger painting.

It’s the golden thread of humanity that motors our evolution. As much of a blessing this is, it’s also a curse. Because we can use our creativity to make-believe we’re not creative (which is what we typically do when we see no options).

Hold steady. Stand firm. Check in with Source. Know that, if you give your creative nature space amidst the chaos, something will emerge. Trust it. Utilize it. And you’ll find yourself back in the flow where stress doesn’t hang out.


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Stress ≠ Productivity 👊

Image: Amar Yashlaha

It should be obvious, but it isn’t…

Stress is not a prerequisite for productivity. It’s definitely not a stand-in for it.

So what brought us here? I believe it’s a byproduct of growing up in a factory-based society. From home to school to work doing meaningless chores, jobs, and tasks where the parents, teachers, foremen and managers gauge our work by how ‘busy’ (stressed out) we appear.

Yelling makes us look productive when our jobs are to look busy. So does having a bluetooth constantly trained at the ear. As well as countless other nervous ticks of the ‘busy-to-appear-productive’ culture.

Soon, it becomes a belief and a habit and before we know it, we’re in the ICU.

Ditch the stress and the productivity — like, the real ‘getting sh*t done’ kind of productivity — increases. As does our health. And happiness.

Don’t stress. Just get it done.


I’m Jonas Ellison — a motivational messenger and coach who writes daily here on Medium. To get my short vignettes in your inbox every day, click here.

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Change the channel, darling

Image: Tracy Thomas

Sometimes, what we see out there seems so… Real. So concrete. Especially the bad stuff.

There are times I’m certain that that fire-breathing, snot-slinging dragon is coming in hot, straight at me. I can see it. I can feel its fire on my eyes. This is it, I’ve often said to myself as I squint and wait for it to consume me in flames.

But here I am. Typing this to you. Never been burned by a dragon once. And if I have been, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I made it out to be.

Since we’re talking about symbolic dragons (which take the physical form of past-due bills, eviction notices, pink slips, cold shoulders, ruined take-out orders, and the like) — I think it’s time we ask ourselves, why do we allow our imaginations to take us there?

Maybe it’s not a dragon for you (it’s usually not for me either, but it was an example that worked, so I went with it) — maybe it’s just an overblown doomsday scenario, rooted in FEAR (False Evidence Appearing Real).

These horror movies we project onto the screen of our consciousness are merely scenes from a movie of our making.

Well, as you may already know, we have the remote in our hands. We’re just so enthralled and mesmerized by what’s on the screen that we often forget to just aim that bad boy and change the damn channel.

I’m reading Arriana Huffington’s book, Thrive, right now (incredible book). This idea is swiped straight from the book — here’s a passage for ya…

“Whenever I’d complain or was upset about something in my own life, my mother had the same advice, ‘Darling, just change the channel. You are in control of the clicker. Don’t replay the bad, scary movie.’”
Arianna Huffington, Thrive

Don’t replay the bad, scary movie. What wonderful words of wisdom.

Now, where’s that remote again?


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