Why Avoiding Stress is Not a Path to Peace

Every June, I happily shlepped to my Grandma’s beach house for the summer.

The highlights of my memory are those salt-soaked months with my 90-year old matriarch. Her Southern Rhode Island sanctuary was the one place that the anxiety-drowned child in me felt safe to have fun. I left OCD at the border of Connecticut and learned how to feel at peace.

vintage photo, mom and daughter, sixties, madmen style bathing suit, madmen glasses

My wise momma and the woman she hails from (pre me being born).

Summer changed more than my perception of life. 

It changed how I saw my mom. After spending two months with just my grandma, I heard her Volvo roll up the pebble driveway. I flew down the steps. I ran to the back door. My jaw dropped.

“You got a face life!?”

I felt betrayed. How dare she change who she is without even consulting me! She started laughing. “What are you talking about?” Turns out, she had not had work done. Sixty days of staring at a 90-year old woman’s leathery skin made my mom look like she had the smooth, taught skin of a Vogue cover shoot.

She deserves to be on the cover.

She is the finest xx-year-old I have ever met (I will not reveal her age). And not just because she has a waistline that my friends envy. She glows wisdom. About once a month I call her in a panic, and she smacks me with truth that needs to be in a book somewhere. The woman is a sage. She proved this yesterday when I called her with my latest dilemma. I was supposed to attend an event and I felt torn. Should I go? Should I not go?

She asked a simple question that changed my perspective.

Mom: What will make you feel most at peace?

Me: Well, I don’t know. I am afraid that if I don’t go, I will regret it. 

Mom: Do you want to go?

Me: If I dont go I’ll be stressed that I missed out.

Mom: Well, don’t make a decision based on avoiding stress.

I had tricked myself into thinking that avoiding stress is the same as choosing peace.

Errrr. Wrong.

She reminded me that I have trained myself to act based on what will create the least amount of stress. This worked when I was an abnormally fearful middle-schooler. It did not work in yesterday’s decision making process.

From the old middle-school perspective, I would have gone to the event because I was afraid I would regret not going. Meh, craziness ensues.

From the new heart-perspective, I chose to go home, cook with my husband and relax. Ah, peace ensues.

When we are torn, it is because we have forgotten our hearts.

1. What big or small decision are you making?

2. What makes you feel at peace?*

* This is different than what will make you not feel stressed or afraid.

3. Follow your heart. You will be amazed at how quickly your life follows suit.

When we follow our heart, life becomes a permanent sanctuary.

Our hearts know more than our heads. It is about time we listen to them. Rhode Island is a sanctuary because I forget how to make stress-avoidant decisions when I am there. Without school, or social stressors, or work, I remember how to make decisions based on what my heart begs me to experience.

What happens when we take a heart-guided mentality into the rest of our life?

We get a permanent facelift.

My mom’s facelift had nothing to do with my perception of grandma. It had everything to do with her decision to ignore life’s “wrinkles” and choose the most smooth path toward her heart’s desire.

To do the same, share this with a friend and make a commitment to follow your hearts together.

If you have trouble leaving your stress at the border of yesterday, try out my free resources or schedule a stress-reducing one-on-one with me.

For inspiration every Tuesday, subscribe to my blog above.

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To a heart-led Tuesday,


EFT Practitioner

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