The word “tension” is thrown around pretty often in the personal growth/fitness/spirituality field.

And for good reason, there is something about discomfort (tension) that lead us to seek change.

Tension in that case serves us because it offers us enough push to want to do things differently. To move past our comfort zone and demonstrate to ourselves that we might be greater than we originally considered ourselves to be.

However, tension or stress in areas where there is no conceivable way of improving or changing the situation can be toxic.

It can cause people to replay painful, hurtful scenarios in their minds continuously with no end.

Being stuck in a moment that cant be changed, distracts us from being engaged in the present moment and disconnects us from the people who have no idea what tragedy is taking place in our distant thoughts.

I’ve been there.

And it sucks.

It is this type of stress that led me to panic attacks, extreme distrust of other people and into regular bouts of depression.

At first, I thought the answer was to just try not to think the painful thoughts and so when they would arise, I would try earnestly to repeat affirmations, listen to uplifting music, go out with friends or in some way try and distract myself. Sometimes it would work, and over time some of these coping mechanisms became addictions themselves which led to other delusions and confusions.

Other times there was no running away from the painful thoughts and reliving the hurtful past.

When I first encouraged to make friends with these stressful thoughts, I didn’t even think it was humanly possible. I feared that if I really went there, I may lose myself in sadness and despair, and never return again.

Still, I trusted my teacher and I went there. I sobbed, I cried, I felt physical pain shoot through my chest and literally fold my seated body in half

And then.

I laughed, and I got as close to the experience as my memories would take me. I could see that my perpetrator wasn’t in fact this evil scary monster. He was a scared lost child who had taken on the inevitable role of adult. Filled with his own fears, confusions and delusions.

I lived through the experience again. This time more awake, more aware.

I learned something from the pain of it.

I thanked it for showing up and realized there was nothing about it I would change.

My stressful thoughts became my beloved teacher and my dearest friend.

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