Truth Byte # 12

Truth Byte # 12

Life was meant to be easy and simple.  How do I know? I learned that from nature.  Nature doesn’t try so hard.  It doesn’t wrinkle it’s forehead in worry and confusion.  In nature, it’s always the path of least resistance that wins.  In the natural world, animals conserve their energy just in case they need a big burst of speed or strength.  And every so often, a tiger shows up and that gazelle runs like the wind.  But generally, the gazelles just hang out, chillin’.

We have forgotten how to do that.  In this modern context, we are always looking around for the next tiger, always on high alert.  And when no tiger appears, we invent one.  This morning, after returning from a week of rest and rejuvenation, I woke up feeling completely relaxed.  “Life is good”, I though to myself sleepily.  And the next thought was, “I better get moving or I will be late.”  So I started rushing around, back into that familiar routine of barely contained chaos that the mornings have been for the last two months.  

Until my husband stopped me.  He smiled.  He held my face in his hands and said, “What is the worst thing that could happen?” That was his way of asking me to describe the tiger I was running from.  I stopped.  I breathed. I asked myself the question.  And I realized the worst thing that could happen was that I would be late.

That is not a tiger.

That is a mild annoyance.

But being late is clearly not a tiger.

I have been late before.  And while mildly irritating for all involved, it does not warrant me spoiling my mood and the happiness of my children.  It does not warrant me skipping feeding myself the fuel I need to get through the morning.  It does not warrant high alert, high panic and rushing through the sweetest part of my day as my kids snuggle in and we tell each other what we dreamed about last night.

I was making it harder than it needs to be.

Many of us do this.  We take the simple business of being human and weave it into this magnificent tale of overcoming tigers.  But at what cost?  So what if you had to park a little but further than you normally would?  So what if you couldn’t find the earrings that you really wanted to wear to that interview? So what if you had to store your hand luggage in a compartment a few rows away from you? So what if you forgot to post a happy birthday on a friend’s social media page? So what?

If we can be gentler with ourselves, more forgiving and less demanding, we will start to see that life doesn’t actually have to be as hard as we are making it.  While I was on vacation, I did all the things I would normally do in my life: I ate, slept, bathed, cleaned the house, washed dishes, cooked, checked email, talked to friends.  I didn’t see clients or take my kids to school, but everything else was pretty much the same.  What was different is that I wasn’t treating these normal, every day tasks as tigers.  I wasn’t waiting to be swallowed by my own self-attack.  I wasn’t keeping one eye on the clock so I could squeeze in yet another critical something into my day. 

I simply lived, and enjoyed the gentle rhythms of being human.

Today, I challenge you to be that caring friend who will ask, “What is the worst that could happen?”  I challenge you to name your own tigers, so you can start to see they aren’t really tigers at all.  I challenge you to remember your instincts for relaxation, rejuvenation, and stillness.   So that when the real tiger comes, the running will be graceful and effortless.  

Dr. Saira Sabzaali

Dr. Saira Sabzaali

Dr. Saira (she/her) provides mental health support through individual counselling, groups, immersive workshops/courses, and free educational content. Over the last 14 years, we have helped men and women of many backgrounds find answers to their questions about work, life, love, and meaning. Much mainstream psychology overlooks spirituality, family values, and community context, so we have decided to specialize in serving clients who are ready for change and also want to include their cultural values and spiritual beliefs into therapy.

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