Life be life-ing. The phrase needs no explanation. But could adopting this phrase as a mental health mantra benefit our well-being?
When we find ourselves caught in a circus of circumstances, one of our first instincts is to try to become the ringmaster and attempt to gain control of those situations.
The reality is that we simply cannot control everything in our lives, and we will drive ourselves cuckoo trying to. There’s no shame in being cuckoo sometimes because life will take you there, but most of us would prefer to reserve that feeling for coco-puffs. There comes a point where we must step out of the role of the ringmaster and become a member of the crowd. Grab the peanuts and some cotton candy and observe how these situations play out.
While it’s a lot easier said than done, here are some tips to help us to know when to stop being the ringmaster and just sit back and enjoy the shitshow that is our life sometimes.
Practicing Psychological and Physiological Awareness
When stressful situations begin to overwhelm us and cause anxiety, frustration, and other negative emotions, our nervous system is in overdrive.
This can have psychological and physiological effects. From a psychological standpoint, a lot of times our minds begin to produce thought patterns that tell us a story about the situations in our lives.
These stories are often based on the past, fears, projections, and trauma. Recognizing these thoughts as just what they are, thoughts, can help us understand that this is just the story our mind is telling us about a situation and not the true reality of the situation.
While our mind is giving its best impression of Quentin Tarantino, we may feel emotions and sensations in our body that tell us that we are not safe and that we need to react.
This is a normal part of our stress response, but reacting based on our emotions often has negative consequences. Especially if we are reacting based on the story our mind is telling us about a situation that often doesn’t reflect reality.
This is where becoming a crowd member of the circus of our circumstances is key. We can notice the thought patterns and emotions in the body that are arising without reacting in that moment.
Depending on the strength of the thought or emotion, we may need to use the ABC method, breathwork, or our sensory perceptions to help us stay grounded in the present moment. Becoming a crowd member and being aware of our thoughts and emotions gives us time to observe them and respond, rather than react.
Recognize What You Can and Can't Change
Is there anything more I can do to help this situation at this moment?
Now back to our mantra, “life be life-ing”. At first glance, it may seem like another way to say “eff it,” but it’s really not. It’s all about non-resistance, understanding, and acceptance.
There are certain times when being the ringmaster in our circus of circumstances is beneficial because there are certain times when an action can be taken that can improve those situations. For instance, if you are stressing about not having enough money, you can start an Only Fans page. If your man isn’t acting right, in the words of TLC, you can take his friend. Sorry, I had to add some levity to this topic, but you get the point! Sometimes there’s something you can do.
Even when we are empowered to be able to do something to change a situation, practicing being a crowd member and observing is still beneficial because we may not be able to act in that moment.
Even if we do act, the outcome of a situation may be dependent on the actions of someone or something else that is out of our control. And so, accepting this, we can sit back and watch the circus play out.
If any action can be taken, it’s best if we take it in the now and in the moment. Even if it’s just a baby step. This will keep us from ruminating and worrying and give us confidence that we have taken a step to help our situation, taking that ringmaster role, and then we can go back into the crowd and go nuts. I mean, eat nuts.
I'm a millennial mental health advocate and writer. In addition to all things mental health, I enjoy writing about spirituality and sharing my experiences with a touch of humor because it really is an antidote and an anesthesia to help us cope with the calamity of life!