Who Needs to Change, You or the World?
Someone said, and more and more experts say that Stress is our Friend. Try to tell this to someone whose is being bullied at work, or is a victim of domestic violence... It is rumored that Solzhenitsyn, the famous Russian writer at some point decided to cut up double the amount of tree trunks then they were forced cut in a concentration camp. He could not change what was happening around him, but he decided to express his freedom by doing something different than what he was ordered to do.
It is true that ultimately it is not just about what happens to us, what matters more is our Response to it. One of the fundamental differences between humans and animals perhaps the real difference is in the choices we have. As Janos Selye the famous ethologist put it, you only have 3 choices when you are in stress. Fight, flight or seek protection. The fourth is to get sick or die. It is when we are "seeking protection", when it really gets interesting. The rest of it (fight and flight and fold) is "easy", a straightforward reptilian reaction.
But how does one seek protection? Is protection inside or outside? Traditional psychotherapy and coaching was very focused on fixing the individual. If you were in stress and showing symptoms, you had to be sick. You needed to get medication and fixing by the therapist.
If you read recent articles about stress, now it is all about your inner abilities and mental strength. Nothing is real and all you need to do is shifting your filters and everything will be alright. In this new haze, it is all about you again, and your magical abilities to change everything INSIDE you which in turn changes everything AROUND you. There’s a well-known story about a sitar player who was discouraged by his meditation practice and went to the Buddha to ask for instruction.
“What happens when you tune your instrument too tightly?” the Buddha asked. “The strings break,” the musician replied. “And what happens when you string it too loosely?” “When it’s too loose, no sound comes out,” the musician answered. “The string that produces a tuneful sound is not too tight and not too loose.”
“That,” said the Buddha, “is how to practice: not too tight and not too loose.”
Are we supposed to change the world around us entirely? Or on the contrary, are we supposed to accept everybody and everything as they come and change our reality inside? A happy and successful person knows that stability and resilience comes from an inner source. The practice of mindfulness and learning how to stay grounded is very useful. At the same time, they also remember the words of Rabbi Hillel, who said the following in his sermon: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?”
So, the art is to know when to leave when it is no longer good for you, and to know when to start something and follow your bliss. You need to know when to stop something because the string is too tight. It is the dialectic art of embracing reality and at the same time be able to act for yourself when needed that makes the difference.
- What will you start?
- What will you stop?
- What will you to embrace this year? (It may be something, that you thought you needed to fight against for a long time)
- And what will you finally let go of?