How To Unsubscribe From The Struggle And Find True Contentment

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As the new year rang in, and messages like, “Make it happen!” and “Grab the bull by the horns!” bombarded me everywhere I turned, all I felt like doing was taking a nap and quietly reflecting and resting.

My first thought was that something was wrong with me for not wanting to achieve a new goal, or make anything happen. I simply wanted to do nothing, and a part of me was judging myself for it. I took to my meditation pillow for some guidance, asking my higher self for some insight.

The response I received was:

“Do nothing. You need to rest. Take a moment to reflect and honor yourself for everything you achieved even just last year alone. No wonder you are exhausted.”

As a Type-A, over-achieving go-getter, the notion of doing nothing feels like death to the ego. Much of my life (like many other people) has been defined by what I accomplish in the material world, and proving my worth to myself and others. I know I am not alone in feeling guilt and judgment for wanting to slow down and just be.

In the spirit of a fresh year, I decided to try something new: surrender to my inner wisdom and truth.

I took my slow work schedule as a sign and signal to ask myself who I am without all my achievements and accomplishments in the outside world. Who am I without my career, looks, money, fancy clothes, car and condo? What does it really mean to live a “good life?”

Even just a year ago, if I had a month off of work, I would have freaked out and gone into panic mode about how my bills would get paid and why I wasn’t booking more jobs. I decided I was tired of that way of thinking. It’s exhausting and doesn’t attract anything positive into my life. Instead of pushing, forcing or trying to “make things happen,” I’m consciously choosing to do less and let go of trying to control the situation.

As a suicide prevention awareness advocate, one of my messages is, “Never give up.” But when it comes to trying to control and manipulate outcomes in our lives, I’m discovering that “giving up” is necessary. Giving up isn’t throwing in the towel, it’s an act of faith. It’s a powerful devotion to a higher power.

Giving up or surrendering as an act of faith is a whole new way of problem-solving. It is a more grounding and peaceful approach to getting what we want more easily. It is the opposite of rushing around or forcing, it is about letting ourselves and our lives unfold more naturally, piece by piece, layer by layer.

It reminds me of nature. Nature does not struggle to express its beauty and glory. Flowers weren’t created to struggle, and neither were we as human beings. That’s just a lie we’ve been told in a “Be productive and make it happen!” society. But we don’t have to subscribe to the struggle.

Let 2017 be the year we unsubscribe from the struggle!

It is easier to give up the struggle when we realize our lives are so much more than what we achieve materially. What if we could begin to see ourselves and our lives with fresh new eyes, and focus more on our emotional journey home to our true selves?

My goals are no longer wrapped up in a dream job or relationship—both of which are fantastic, but nothing outside of ourselves can give us lasting happiness. My new goal is radical self-acceptance, inner peace and deep, fulfilling joy. Some days, that looks like hard work in the outside world, and other days, it means staying home in my pajamas taking care of my inner child, feeling my feelings, giving myself empathy and conserving energy.

Society tells us how acceptable it is to work ourselves to exhaustion in the name of making “it” happen—a career, relationship, family, business—but not nearly enough time and attention is paid to our emotional journey home to ourselves.

I really fought myself for not feeling like doing anything for days. As it turns out, “not doing anything” was achieving something extraordinary—a beautiful, healthy, kind, loving relationship with myself. When we learn to stop pushing and accept the perfection of what is, we can enjoy the perfect place we are in.

Sometimes “giving up” as an act of faith is all we need. Try it out for yourself!

View my story on elephantjournal.com.

I Quit Taking Antidepressants For Good, And Have Never Felt Happier

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When I was 29 years old, I went to see a new doctor for my yearly exam. At the time, I was working as a TV news reporter, and my doctor immediately recognized me from the crime-filled, disturbing stories I had been covering.

He also noted that I seemed on edge as I sat in his office that day. His comments on my demeanor made me feel like there was something wrong with me, like working long days interviewing grieving parents about the murders of their children shouldn’t overwhelm me.

“That is stressful,” I said. “Isn’t it appropriate I am stressed?”

Was this doctor really suggesting that something was wrong with just me because I wasn’t desensitized to the horrific events that surrounded me? Did I really need medication to make myself numb to my surroundings?

“You’re a strong, brilliant career woman. You can’t be crying at work,” I remember him saying to me.

At the time, I was so desperate to feel “normal” and not cry almost every day driving home from work because I was so exhausted and overworked. I walked out of his office that day with a prescription for Lexapro—a drug used to treat anxiety and major depressive disorder. In a 10-minute consultation, I became part of the statistic on the overmedication of Americans, and looking back on that is terrifying.

As I look back on that day in the doctor’s office, I want to pull my 29-year-old self aside and hug her.

A recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry reports that antidepressant use has skyrocketed over the last two decades, up nearly 400 percent. Statistics show that one in 10 Americans now take antidepressant medication. Among women in their 40s and 50s, the figure is one in four.

Yet 69 percent of people taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), the primary type of antidepressants, have never suffered from major depressive disorder (MDD). Even more shocking, 38 percent have never in their lifetime met the criteria for MDD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, social phobia, or generalized anxiety disorder yet still take the pills that treat them.

I thought that the medication would take the edge off of my life’s uncertainties.

I stayed on Lexapro for several years—even after I left the TV news business. I was changing careers, moving, breaking up with a serious boyfriend, and I thought that the medication would take the edge off of my life’s uncertainties.

It wasn’t until I attended a lecture by best-selling author Marianne Williamson that I had my wake-up call. I listened as Marianne talked about her latest book, Tears to Triumph, and about how moving “with the edge” is our life’s work, spiritually speaking. The edge is made up of those sleepless nights, those cries, those uncomfortable conversations.

She told me that heartbreak is nothing new. Has anyone not had his or her heart broken? Has anyone not suffered a professional failure? Has anyone not experienced the loss of a loved one?

These things may be painful, but they are not mental illness. As I look back on that day in the doctor’s office, I want to pull my 29-year-old self aside and hug her. I want to tell her, “You don’t need an antidepressant; you need to find a new station to work for, a new boss, job, a new career. You need to sit in meditation 20 minutes a day, twice a day, reconnect with your spirit, and pray. You need to surrender your life to a higher power, eat healthier food, rest, connect with your friends and family in a meaningful way.”

I’m not saying that anyone who has been diagnosed with a mental illness should give up their medications cold turkey, or at all.

It’s been several months since I weaned myself off Lexapro with the guidance of my doctor, and I feel like myself again. I have 100 times more energy. I am clear. I am joyful and alive. That lethargic dark cloud that used to follow me everywhere I went has lifted.

Since becoming more conscious and awake, I’ve discovered that our society seems to promote self-medicating and numbing ourselves out. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said and heard, “I need a drink.” I’ve rarely heard, “Let’s pray. Time to meditate. I need to feel my feelings so I can release this pain once and for all.”

I am in no way saying that my story holds true for everyone. I’m not saying that anyone who has been diagnosed with a mental illness should give up their medications cold turkey, or at all. I’m simply suggesting that we all take a deeper look into our choices, do our research, ask our health care providers and drug companies tough questions, and explore our options for treating anxiety and depression.

Feeling sad, out of sorts, anxious, or depressed at times is part of what it means to be human. My hope is that anyone who reads this will at least consider looking into other forms of relief. Your brain and heart will thank you.

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